Achalasia - Describe Your Experience

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What is achalasia?

Achalasia is a rare disease of the muscle of the esophagus (swallowing tube). The term achalasia means "failure to relax" and refers to the inability of the lower esophageal sphincter (a ring of muscle situated between the lower esophagus and the stomach) to open and let food pass into the stomach. As a result, patients with achalasia have difficulty in swallowing food.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Greg, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: May 21

I had achalasia for several years and was misdiagnosed by my primary care doctor for having esophageal spasms, based on barium swallow tests. It progressed to the point where I could not sleep, because I had to sit up and constantly cough to keep from drowning on saliva. I went to the emergency room (ER), had more swallow tests, and an endoscopy. I had a Heller myotomy about 2 years ago, and I haven"t had any problems. I asked about the fundoplication, because I was worried about acid reflux after everything was opened up, but my surgeon advised against it. He said he has had to go in and undo some of these, and I would not have any problem with reflux. He was right. I have not had any symptoms at all. Before, when I thought I had heartburn, it was actually food digesting in my esophagus and trickling into my stomach through a 1mm hole. My doctors were all outstanding. There was another surgeon who wanted to do a less invasive surgery with a shorter recovery time, but I found out that he could not make the incisions as good. I chose the better procedure. Also, I can eat whatever I want, but with meat, I cut it a little smaller and chew it a little more now.

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Comment from: There is hope, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: May 30

I am a 70 year old female. I was diagnosed with achalasia when I was 19 years old. After a year of symptoms, losing weight and finally not even being able to swallow water, I had the Heller procedure. I could swallow a lot better after this, but still had a degree of difficulty. Years later I started getting dilation, which helped a little. I was having this done every 3 months. My doctor finally told me in 2011 that he could no longer do the dilatation, I was at the end stage of my disease. My doctor referred me to a surgeon. I had esophagectomy surgery, where they remove most of your esophagus and part of your stomach is removed and then the stomach is moved up to your chest cavity and reattached to a very short remaining esophagus. It was a long recovery (probably because of my age, 67 at the time. I can happily report that now I finally can swallow like a normal person. No one can appreciate this more than an achalasia sufferer. There is hope at the end of this tunnel. Good luck to all of you who endure this problem every day.

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