Achalasia is a rare disease that makes it hard to swallow foods and liquids. In achalasia, there is a problem with the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach (esophagus). The muscles that make the esophagus contract and push food down to the stomach don’t work well. The muscle contractions get weak.
The LES (lower esophageal sphincter) also doesn’t work well. The LES is the muscle at the bottom of the esophagus, where it joins the stomach. With achalasia, the LES gets narrow and tight. Food does not pass into the stomach as it should. Over time, food and liquid can collect in the esophagus. This disorder happens more often in adults. It is rare in children.
Achalasia affects males and females equally. In some cases, there may be a family history of achalasia.
Symptoms often start slowly and get worse over time. They may look like symptoms of other disorders. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis. The following are common symptoms of achalasia:
Your child's healthcare provider may suspect achalasia if symptoms have lasted for a few weeks and are getting worse. To make a diagnosis, the provider will look into the esophagus and do special tests. These tests take pictures and measure pressures inside the esophagus while a child is swallowing. These tests include:
Achalasia often gets worse if it is not treated. Medicines are not very effective. Surgery is almost always recommended. Types of surgery include:
Before you agree to the test or the procedure for your child make sure you know: