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Definition of Achalasia

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Achalasia: A disease of the esophagus that mainly affects young adults. Abnormal function of nerves and muscles of the esophagus causes difficulty swallowing and sometimes chest pain. Regurgitation of undigested food can occur, as can coughing or breathing problems related to entry of food material into the lungs. The underlying problems are weakness of the lower portion of the esophagus and failure of the lower esophageal sphincter to open and allow passage of food. Diagnosis is made by an X-ray, endoscopy, or esophageal manometry.
Reviewed on 12/3/2018

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