Achalasia is a rare condition that affects the functionality of the esophagus, particularly when the nerves that control muscle movement (peristalsis) are damaged to the point that food cannot pass through the esophagus to the stomach to be digested. Achalasia also affects the opening and closing of the esophageal sphincter that allows food to pass to the stomach and keep it from coming back up.
Often mistaken for other gastrointestinal conditions, achalasia will cause paralysis of the esophagus, preventing the transfer of food for digestion. A gastrointestinal specialist or gastroenterologist can confirm the condition, and prescribe medications or surgery that can help with this condition.
The main symptom of achalasia is difficulty swallowing food or liquid. Also known as dysphagia, this symptom occurs when the esophagus does not produce normal peristaltic movement to help move food and liquids to the stomach, where digestion renders the food to absorbable nutrients needed for the body.1Achalasia - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf. National Center for Biotechnology Information, 5 Feb. 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519515/#article-17083.s2
A person with dysphagia can feel like their food is stuck in the throat or even have chest pains due to blockage of food in the lower esophagus. Dysphagia is a common symptom for other gastrointestinal diseases and should be examined closely by a gastroenterologist.1Achalasia - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf. National Center for Biotechnology Information, 5 Feb. 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519515/#article-17083.s2