Achalasia is a disease related to oesophagus, its muscles and nerves mostly affecting the young adults. Oesophagus is a tube in the throat route that helps to swallow food. People suffering from this condition lose their ability to swallow food.
What Causes Achalasia?
Causes of Achalasia are not known.
They are sometimes seen to be passed down in the genes; and sometimes the oesophagus gets damaged and loses its muscle strength to take the food in due to weak immune system.
Patients may suffer from mild or vigorous Achalasia, depending on how far the problem has been allowed to go untreated; or how late has it come to recognition.
Oesophagus is divided into three parts and performs its functions as a combination of nerves and muscles.
Nerves play an important role in relaxing the muscles, which makes them open up and allow the food to reach stomach.
What exactly happens is – the lower part of oesophagus, known as the oesophageal sphincter, which is a muscle resemble a ring, located amidst lower oesophagus and stomach becomes rigid and is not in a position to open itself to let the food go in and reach the stomach.
When this happens people are diagnosed as suffering from Achalasia as they are not able to swallow what they eat.
Oesophagus may face varying problems that give rise to this health problem, like the lower sphincter resting pressure may be too high; there may be abnormalities in the lower sphincter.
It is a possibility that oesophagus lower half or may be more, does not perform the contracting function as normally as it is suppose to; lacking in peristaltic waves, the food and saliva may not get pushed down the oesophagus into the stomach; ineffective high-pressure waves and so on.
When tests are performed and results are studied under microscope, the inflammation of muscles in the lower oesophagus area is clearly visible and if this is dismissed or allowed to go untreated
It progresses on to the next level where, the nerves show signs of deteriorating and gradually disappearing, and in all this, especially the nerves that make the lower oesophageal sphincter relax are affected the most.
People suffering from Achalasia lose their ability to swallow food.
It’s also the first and most obvious symptom that patients complain of that they feel food they eat or drink gets stuck in the chest after they swallow it; and it has their consistent complaint after every meal that they have.
Since food starts getting accumulated in the oesophagus and patients may feel pain in the chest or heaviness which they also sometimes confuse with heart problem.
Sometimes the pain is may become so unbearable that they my have to discontinue eating mid way.
Also, sometimes when the person is asleep the accumulated food in the swallowing tube may also get pushed in reverse direction and the victim may cough and feel choked.
As a result of people’s inability to eat they lose wait, sometimes doctors initially diagnose it as gases related issue and due to wrong diagnoses, mild Achalasia becomes vigorous.
These people sometimes also get pneumonia. Since food may get stuck in oesophagus for an extended period of time
It may also give rise to oesophageal ulcerations.
Though herd on many occasions, it is not yet proved that people suffering from Achalasia have more chances of getting cancer of oesophagus.
It is diagnosed with the help of x-rays, endoscopy, and oesophageal manometer.
Treatments for Achalasia
Based on diagnoses – the exact causes of Achalasia are confirmed, and treatment is accordingly decided.
Treatments may include combination comprising, course of oral medication; dilation; surgical procedure called Esophagomyotomy.
Endoscopic injection of Botulinum toxin to help muscles relax and open up to let food in etc.
All these treatments help the pressure within the lower oesophageal sphincter to reduce and thereby enable the oesophagus to relax and allow food and beverages reach the stomach.
By way of precautions, patient after diagnoses should follow medicines as advised, take post meal care; avoid food that may cause ulcers in the oesophagus etc.
In short try steer clear situations that will make the problem more complicated.