Esophageal Achalasia is a rare disorder that can occur at virtually any age. Its main symptom is the inability of the esophagus to expand and “let” food into the stomach.
Undoubtedly, esophageal achalasia is a really serious health problem. Interestingly, despite intensive research on this subject for years, the scientific community has not yet been able to find the specific causes of this disease.
Esophageal Achalasia is generally a rare disease. In a simplified way, it is based on the fact that the sick person is not able to swallow solid food or, in some cases, liquids.
But how is this particular disease diagnosed and treated? You can find out by spending a few minutes reading our today’s article. Therefore, we invite you to read!
Esophageal Achalasia – What Are the Basic Symptoms of This Disease?
The main symptom inherent in esophageal achalasia is difficulty swallowing food. However, in order for a physician to clearly diagnose this disease in a patient, he / she should pay attention to the following symptoms:
- Dysphagia. It is generally difficult to swallow both solid and liquid foods. It is also often associated with the inability to drink fluids. This is mainly due to constriction at the top of the esophagus.
- Pain in the chest. It doesn’t happen very often. But it can nevertheless occur if there are muscle spasms in the lower esophageal sphincter.
- Food phrases. Some people with esophageal achalasia regularly regurgitate the food they have eaten. This is for the simple reason of their inability to swallow it.
- Weight loss: When a person is unable to donate food to their digestive system, they gradually lose weight. In many cases, this state of affairs can lead to anemia and malnutrition.
It is also important to know that foods and fluids that do not pass through the esophagus and are not returned can pass into the lungs. This can happen at any time, even while the person is asleep. In addition, other consequences and sequelae of this disease may include respiratory infections and aspiration pneumonia.
So if you notice two or more of the symptoms described above, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Only he will be able to unequivocally determine whether you have oesophageal achalasia or whether your ailments have some other cause.
How can this disease be diagnosed?
Once a patient has presented the symptoms described above to a doctor, certain tests will be required before a conclusive diagnosis can be made.
The two most frequently performed tests are:
Esophageal motility study
This diagnostic method measures the pressure produced by the muscles of the esophagus.
Esophageal motility test (called esophageal manometry in the medical literature) is performed using a thin probe inserted into the patient’s digestive system through the nose. Its purpose is to reach the esophagus and stomach. This procedure is definitely unpleasant and in many cases painful, which means that the patient is usually under local anesthesia during the procedure.
Once the tube with the probe is in the stomach, the technician in charge places it slightly above the esophagus and asks the patient to swallow to measure the pressure generated by the esophagus muscles.
X-ray of the esophagus
This is another way to diagnose esophageal achalasia. This is a simple test in which the test person first has to drink a special fluid called contrast.
The patient then rests his back against the X-ray table. He must now hold his breath for a few seconds for the x-ray machine to do its job. The photo obtained in this way will allow the doctor to take a close look at the area of your chest that interests him.
Esophageal Achalasia – Available Treatments
Consult your doctor immediately if you experience any of the symptoms we describe below. And if you’ve done so, you’re probably interested in any possible treatments at your disposal.
Treatment of this disease in most cases depends on its stage and the specific characteristics of the person suffering from esophageal achalasia. This includes factors such as age, possible respiratory infections, and many other issues beyond the scope of this article.
Some of the treatments available include:
- Pneumatic dilatation with the use of a balloon. A special balloon is placed in the hiatal sphincter. It is then inflated to keep the esophagus open and fully extended. Usually, this procedure needs to be repeated once in a while.
- Botox. It is a well-known remedy used mainly for beauty improvement purposes. But at the same time, it has muscle relaxant properties which come in handy when it is injected through an endoscope into a hiatal sphincter. Usually, this procedure is performed on elderly people who cannot undergo classic surgery.
- Muscle relaxants. This particular procedure requires you to administer muscle relaxants before eating. The problem with this particular treatment method, however, is that there are many different side effects.
- Surgery. It is the best option available, especially for young patients. It is the most effective solution to date to a problem, the causes of which are still unknown to us.
If you have problems swallowing food or even water, see a doctor immediately.
However, there are times when we may confuse difficulty swallowing with anxiety symptoms. Nevertheless, it is always better to be sure that we get the correct diagnosis.
This will allow you to begin treating your possible illness and get a recommendation that includes the method most effective for your specific case. In addition, it will prevent further serious health problems from getting food or fluids into your lungs. This is a very dangerous phenomenon that we mentioned a bit earlier.
Currently, active research is still ongoing to determine the root causes of esophageal achalasia. Hopefully, this disorder will soon be prevented from the very basis of this disease.