Achalasia

What is Achalasia?


Achalasia is a rare disease involving the lower esophageal body muscle and the lower esophageal sphincter that prevents relaxation of the sphincter and reduces contractions, or peristalsis, of the esophagus.


While the cause of achalasia is unknown, there is degeneration of the esophageal muscles and the nerves that control the muscles. Common symptoms of achalasia include:


  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)

  • Chest pain

  • Regurgitation of food and liquids.

Achalasia

Treatments for Achalasia 


There are a few different treatments for achalasia: 


  • Dilation or stretching of the esophagus

  • Oral medications

  • Injection of muscle-relaxing medicines (botulinum toxin) directly into the esophagus. 

  • Surgery or Endoscopic surgery


Unfortunately, there is no specific diet to help treat achalasia. Some patients have learned what foods pass through the esophagus more easily, and make changes to their diet to include those foods. Here are a few exmples of how patients have successfully modified their diet: 


  • Drinking more water with meals 

  • Drinking carbonated beverages (to help "push" the food through the esophageal sphincter). 

  • Drinking liquid foods 


If a person with achalasia has substantial weight loss, their diet may be supplemented by a liquid diet that contains necessary nutrients to prevent malnutrition.