Achalasia is a rare, swallowing disorder. The condition is not curable, but symptoms are controllable. It worsens if it is not treated. Your choice of treatment will depend on your age, preference and general health. Achalasia is the result of abnormal nerve cells in the lower two-thirds of the esophagus. This causes two problems. The muscles lining the tube don’t contract in a normal way. Normally smooth muscle contractions move food through the tube. The second is that the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) doesn’t work properly. It stays tight and creates a barrier that stops food or liquids from going into the stomach. Usually the LES muscle relaxes when we swallow. It contracts once food passes into the stomach. Also, it prevents food from flowing back into the esophagus.
The most common symptom of the condition is difficulty swallowing. Sufferers have the sensation that food and liquid are stuck in the chest. The problem may not be too bad at first and often progresses slowly. People may try to compensate by eating slowly. They may try to lift their necks or throw back their shoulders to get food to go down. Surgery may be necessary if the problem gets worse. Surgery to treat this condition usually involves cutting muscles at the end of the esophagus. The surgeon inserts telescopic equipment through a tiny incision in the abdomen. It has a high success rate. Most people experience symptom relief for up to 20 years after surgery.
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