Top Reasons to Visit an Achalasia Specialist in Merced, CA
Are you having difficulty swallowing, heartburn, belching, irregular chest pain, pneumonia, coughing at night, or weight loss? Get medical attention today with our achalasia specialists! Our gastroenterologist, Dr. Alfred Johnson, MD., has 32 years of experience in his field. He has done his residency in General Surgery at St. Joseph Hospital in Denver, CO, and received additional fellowship training in Laparoscopic/MIS surgery from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. For more information, contact us or schedule an appointment. We are conveniently located at 240 East 13th Street Merced, CA 95341.
Table of Contents:
What is achalasia?
Who treats achalasia?
When should I visit achalasia specialist?
Can achalasia be cured?
Achalasia is a rare condition where food and liquid experience difficulty passing from your mouth into your stomach. Patients experiencing achalasia will have difficulty swallowing. When the esophagus is incapable of properly contracting and the muscle at the end doesn’t open and close as it should, achalasia occurs.
Esophageal nerve damage causes achalasia. Over time, the esophagus becomes dilated and paralyzed and eventually loses its ability to squeeze food into the stomach. Eventually, food can collect in the esophagus, ferment, and wash back up into the mouth, causing a bitter taste. This is sometimes mistaken for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD, however, originates from the stomach, while achalasia comes from the esophagus.
Symptoms of achalasia will be diagnosed by a gastroenterologist and other specialists, such as a thoracic surgeon. To diagnose your condition, they will conduct a thorough evaluation and order a series of tests.
A barium swallow will be conducted wherein you can see how food and liquid travel through your esophagus on X-ray images. The barium liquid travels through your esophagus after being swallowed. An upper endoscopy is conducted to examine your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. During esophageal manometry, you will have a thin, flexible tube inserted into your nose and placed in your esophagus. The test measures the strength and pattern of muscle function within the esophagus to evaluate motility. An endoscopy measures the pressures inside your esophagus and assesses its ability to contract and relax.
Achalasia symptoms tend to develop slowly and can last for months or years. If left untreated achalasia can be very serious. The most common early symptom of achalasia is difficulty swallowing. Other common symptoms include the regurgitation of undigested food, chest pain (sometimes severe), coughing at night, and heartburn. Malnutrition and weight loss caused by difficulty eating develop over time. Hiccups and difficulty belching are some less common symptoms of achalasia.
Achalasia can result in complications such as food backing up into your esophagus and then being drawn into your trachea. Some such complications include lung infection and pneumonia.
Untreated, achalasia can be very dangerous. The difficulty you have in eating solid foods and drinking liquids will gradually increase if you have achalasia. It is possible to lose a lot of weight and become malnourished due to achalasia. The risk of developing esophageal cancer is also slightly higher in people with achalasia, particularly if the condition has been present for a long time. Regular screenings of your esophagus may be recommended by your healthcare provider to catch cancer early.
For these reasons patients experiencing conditions associated with achalasia should seek treatment as quickly as possible from an achalasia specialist. Often patients will be referred by a general practitioner to a gastroenterologist.
Achalasia is a lifelong condition with no cure. However, the condition can be managed with proper treatment to mitigate associated risks and help the patient live comfortably. The aim of achalasia treatment is to relax or stretch the lower esophageal sphincter, which will allow food or liquid to move more easily through the digestive system. The type of treatment you receive depends on your age, health, and the severity of your achalasia. It is important that you discuss all treatment options with your healthcare provider, including their success rate for controlling symptoms, how often they should be repeated, and the benefits and risks associated with each option.
A gastroenterologist may also recommend certain health or lifestyle changes to aid in the management of the condition. Patients in Merced, CA, can visit Dr. Alfred Johnson, MD, for the most comprehensive available care. Contact us through our website to meet Dr. Johnson and our team and to make your next appointment. For more information, call us or schedule an appointment. We are conveniently located at 240 East 13th Street Merced, CA 95341. We serve patients from Merced CA, Atwater CA, Winton CA, Bear Creek CA, Planada CA, Le Grand CA, and Athlone CA.