Achalasia, it looks the same as hurt burn due to some common symptoms, but they’re not the same. While they both have common symptoms like the feeling of food backing up into the throat and trouble swallowing.
It is a rare condition. Although, this condition cannot be cured, the treatment will help you to manage the symptoms.
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What is Achalasia?
Achalasia, a condition which makes difficult for liquid and food to move into the stomach. This condition occurs when the food pipe (esophagus) is damaged. Resulting, the esophagus(food pipe) is not able to push food down, so the valve between the esophagus and stomach which is known as lower esophageal sphincter doesn’t fully relax. It means it makes difficult for food to move into your stomach.
Some other conditions can also have the same symptoms as to achalasia. The esophagus Cancer is one of these conditions. Another cause is a rare parasitic infection which is known as Chagas’ disease.
What are the Symptoms of Achalasia?
The main symptom of the condition is dysphagia, means difficulty in swallowing food and a feeling of choking of food in the esophagus.
The other symptoms of the disease include:
- Pain and discomfort in the chest
- Acid reflux
- Pain and discomfort while eating
- Regurgitation or backflow of food
What are the Causes of Achalasia?
It can be caused by many factors and it is difficult for the doctors to find out the exact cause.
- Autoimmune disorders
- Esophageal cancer and Chagas’ disease
- Acquired Gene mutations
What are the Risk Factors of Achalasia?
The factors that increase the risk of the condition include:
- Underlying autoimmune disorders
- Middle-aged and older individuals are at greater risk.
What are the Complications of Achalasia?
As the condition extends, it becomes difficult to ingest food as well as water. People start to avoid eating food and drink water to prevent discomfort and pain, which leads to malnutrition and weight loss.
It can also lead to the risk of esophageal cancer. Regular cancer screening is necessary for patients with diseases.
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How is Achalasia Diagnosed?
If the symptoms are suggesting the achalasia, diagnostic tests are needed for the diagnosis:
The test evaluates the muscle activity of the food pipe (esophageal). This test is performed by placing a narrow tube-like instrument into the esophagus which controls the muscle movements while swallowing food.
Imaging scans such as MRI, X-ray and CT scan are performed for the diagnosis.
This test is performed to check the symptoms caused due to the disease or stomach dysfunction. The scan is performed by inserting a narrow long tube inside the mouth with the help of a video camera attached to the tube, images are captured that shows esophageal damage.
What are the Treatments for Achalasia?
There are various methods for the treatment of Achalasia :
The Non-surgical Options of Achalasia Treatment Include:
Pneumatic Dilation: The procedure is done by inserting a balloon into the esophagus. The balloon is aerated that stretches the sphincter. In certain cases, the procedure involves the risk of sphincter tear that needs additional surgery.
Botox Therapy: The procedure is performed by injecting the Botox injection into the food pipe which helps in relaxing the muscle of the esophagus.
Medication Therapy: Medications like nifedipine or nitroglycerin are administered on an empty stomach. These drugs manage esophageal muscle movement which eases the passage of food into the esophagus. Medication therapy is the only choice of treatment when the patient is not responsive to pneumatic dilation or botox therapy.
How to Manage Achalasia?
The management of the disease should be a focus on:
- Having regular follow-ups
- If not cured in short term treatment, the patient should be informed about the long-term use of medications
- Elevate the head while sleeping with some extra pillows to prevent acid reflux during sleep
- Avoid taking food that initiates muscle spasm such as too cold or too hot beverages
- Quit smoking and avoid getting exposed to passive smoke
- Limit your alcohol consumption
- Avoid eating 2-3 hours before bed
Achalasia is a rare condition and the symptoms of this condition can be similar to the heartburn condition. So, if you are feeling the long-term symptoms of stomach disease then don’t ignore it and consult the doctor as soon as possible. Because of ignorance, the disease can lead to some further complications. This condition can’t be cured but the symptoms can be controlled by the proper treatment.
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