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Achalasia is a rare condition that makes it hard for the esophagus to move food into the stomach. A loss of nerve cells in the esophagus causes achalasia, but the reason for this loss is unknown.
The esophagus is a muscular tube that connects your throat to your stomach. This swallowing tube uses waves of muscle contractions to push food or drinks down into the stomach. At the bottom of the esophagus is a muscular valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When you eat or drink, the LES relaxes to allow food to enter the stomach and then contracts to keep the stomach’s contents from washing back up into the esophagus.
In people with achalasia, the muscles of the esophagus don’t work correctly:
As time passes, the esophagus becomes more dilated (widened), making it harder to swallow food and fluid. Achalasia can lead to other problems, such as:
Achalasia may cause the following symptoms:
You should not ignore these symptoms.
At Norton Thoracic Institute (NTI), your doctor may use one or more of the following tests to determine if you have achalasia:
The team of experts at NTI offers several treatments for achalasia. The goal of these treatments is to allow food and liquid to pass more easily into the stomach.
You cannot prevent achalasia, but you can take steps to help control your symptoms.
To learn more about the achalasia services at Norton Thoracic Institute, call 602.406.4000.