Patient Comments: Achalasia - Causes

What was the cause of your achalasia?

Comment from: gr8cape, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 15

I had minor symptoms of achalasia (trouble swallowing) since I was 8 or 9. My family would tell me to chew my food or eat more slowly...That really irritated me! When I was 39 it got so bad that I could not keep any food down. Everything I ate came flying back out, even liquids. Doctors were confused by my case because my esophagus was not enlarged but I did have the classic bird's beak. After two years of doctor's appointments I went a clinic and they diagnosed my condition. I had the surgery (Heller Myotomy) when I was 41 and have been doing much better for 10 years. I still will choke on pizza crust, thick bread, etc., if I am starting to get sick my esophagus will spasm and my face swells, and sometimes if I eat too late at night the food will move into my lungs and I will start coughing in my sleep, but other than that I can eat anything I want and feel great.

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Comment from: maddiebrasco, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 21

When I first started choking, then I started losing weight drastically, I was convinced I had cancer. They sent me for a swallow test, nothing came back. The doctor had to follow up, came back with blockage. I had more testing done then an endoscopy, which came back with possible achalasia. One more test was done and it was a definite. Now they wanted to do the stretching thing, I refused because I wanted something more permanent, I was tired of throwing up. I opted for the surgery which lasts approximately 10 years instead of 2 or 3. All this took about a year. Surgery scheduled and 6 hours later they performed a Heller myotomy, which made the opening to my stomach permanently open. There are risks to this. They said I got this because I had a bug and my immune system attacked it and killed the bug and my muscle and nerve system in my esophagus. So I now have a full blown achalasia. Not an easy way to live. When you think about how you take eating for granted!

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Comment from: dani81, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: October 15

After 8 years the doctors finally found out that I have achalasia, it was always mistaken as GERD. I'm going to have heller myotomy surgery done next month. I think I know what caused Achalasia in my case. I was depressed at that time and in a bad relationship and one night while I was eating I was so depressed I felt like I wanted to escape and then suddenly I couldn't eat anymore, the food stuck in my throat and that was my beginning with Achalasia. I lost so much weight in the beginning as I could not eat or drink. Then my doctor told me that if I lost 2 more pounds he'll put me in a hospital and I got scared so I forced myself to eat chocolate and drink sodas which was the only thing I could push down into my stomach.

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Comment from: Jjim, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: June 20

My achalasia showed up when I was 28. I was under a lot of stress (some good, some bad). It does run in my family; my grandmother and an aunt had a lot of swallowing problems, so I think I was predisposed to it, and it came out when the big stress hit. I'm 48 now and have had one balloon dilatation early on, which may have helped some for a while, but I don't want to be on antacids for the rest of my life, so I have chosen not to get another or to get the surgery or Botox. I tried the isosorbide but had to quit when breastfeeding my daughter and found it wasn't really helping me after all. Now I get acupuncture, take an herbal formula called Formula 303, and take lots of B vitamins. I have found that keeping away from caffeine helps, also getting enough rest and trying to keep from getting too stressed helps. I want to be clear though. This is a physical problem. Don't beat yourself up thinking you are doing this to yourself because you aren't dealing well with stress (that seemed to be what the doctors were implying!). The acupuncture actually has helped a lot, but I am by no means cured. I have to pause at least at every meal, and sometimes a big "throat cramp" will prevent me from swallowing for days -- up to five days sometimes. I find that warm milk with a little sweetener is one of the first things my throat will open for after a long cramp; it is soothing. I also have found that eating a lot less meat is helping, especially in the evenings. My goal is to stop trying to eat any meat after 4 and just keep my evening food soft and wet, like soup or protein shakes. I hope this may help or encourage someone! By the way, if you choose acupuncture, make sure it is a good one, and don't be afraid to move on if you find one who isn't helping you. They are not all the same!

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Comment from: William, 13-18 Male (Patient) Published: March 08

I'm 14 now and a month ago I got diagnosed with achalasia. The first symptom I ever got of it was a year ago walking home from school and having massive pains in my chest causing me to faint right there on the sidewalk. I don't know what caused it but I begged my parents to take me to the hospital and when I got there they told me I was fine. I see my specialist in about a week so maybe they can help.

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