Alfred B Johnson MD Gastro Surgeon
Achalasia Specialist Questions and Answers
Achalasia requires the right diagnosis as it can be overlooked or misdiagnosed because it has symptoms similar to other digestive disorders. Our highly skilled surgeon Dr. Alfred B Johnson MD specializes in diagnosis and treatment of digestive health issues. For more information, call us or schedule an appointment. We are conveniently located at 240 East 13th Street Merced, CA 9534
Eating is one of the most fundamental aspects of the human experience, acting as the main method of bodily energy production. The digestive tract helps our bodies break down food and convert it into energy, and comprises many different parts, such as the esophagus, stomach and intestines. There are several medical conditions that can affect the digestive process, such as achalasia, in which the muscles of the lower part of the esophagus fail to relax.
What is achalasia disorder?
Achalasia is a rare disorder in which damaged nerves in the esophagus prevent it from performing its normal functions, such as moving food into the stomach. As a result of the nerve damage in achalasia, the esophagus gradually becomes paralyzed, eventually leading to the loss of the ability to pass food into the stomach. Because of this, food collects in the esophagus, which, in some cases, can ferment and splash back into the mouth. In some cases, this can be mistaken for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD); however, in GERD the material comes from the stomach, whereas in achalasia the food is coming from the esophagus.
There is no cure for achalasia. Once the muscles of the esophagus are paralyzed, they cannot function normally again. However, symptoms can usually be managed through minimally invasive therapies, endoscopy, or surgery.
What are the symptoms of achalasia?
Achalasia symptoms develop slowly, can last for months or years, and may include:
- Trouble swallowing (dysphagia)
- Regurgitation of undigested food
- Chest pain that comes and goes
- Cough at night
- Weight loss/malnutrition from difficulty eating
- Hiccups, difficulty belching (less common symptoms)
What causes achalasia?
The cause of esophageal muscles failing to contract and relax normally is unknown, but there are risk factors that may increase the chances of developing this condition, including:
- Genetics — Research has shown that people who have a parent that is affected by achalasia are more likely to develop the condition themselves.
- Weakened Immune System — Any condition that suppresses the immune system, such as an autoimmune disorder or disease, can increase the chances of developing
- Viral Infection — The development of achalasia is also related to viruses, including the herpes simplex virus.
- Age — While achalasia can occur at any age, it most commonly affects people between the ages of 30 to 60.
How is achalasia treated?
The treatment of achalasia focuses on improving the ability for the esophageal muscles to move food and liquid more easily through the digestive tract. It mainly achieves this through relaxing or stretching open the lower esophageal sphincter. Specific treatment depends on the age of the patient, if they have any other preexisting health conditions, and the severity of the achalasia.
Nonsurgical options include:
- Pneumatic Dilation — In this treatment option, to enlarge the opening of the esophageal sphincter, a balloon is inserted by endoscopy into the center and is then inflated.
- Botox (Botulinum Toxin Type A) — This injectable muscle relaxant can be administered directly into the esophageal sphincter via an endoscopic needle; for long-term relief, injections may need to be repeated.
Surgical options for treating achalasia include:
- Heller myotomy
- Peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM)
Where can I find an achalasia disorder specialist near me?
If you are affected by achalasia and live in or around Merced, CA, come to Alfred B Johnson, MD, today. Our incredibly skilled Gastro Surgeon can help you overcome your condition so you can live a better quality of life.
For a professional diagnosis of achalasia and treatment you can trust, come to Alfred B Johnson MD (Gastro Surgeon) today. Our medical professionals are experienced at treating achalasia and can help you improve your digestive health. Call us today or book an appointment, or visit our clinic conveniently located at 240 East 13th Street Merced, CA 95341. We look forward to serving you! We Serve Patients From Merced CA, Atwater CA, Winton CA, Bear Creek CA, Planada CA, Le Grand CA, and Athlone CA.