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Achalasia is a disorder that interferes with normal swallowing. Normally when we swallow, food passes through the esophagus and into the stomach. But in someone with achalasia, the muscular sphincter, or opening, at the base of the esophagus doesn't relax during swallowing, making it difficult or impossible for food to enter the stomach.
In addition to swallowing difficulties, achalasia can cause regurgitation of food into the esophagus as well as discomfort in the chest and back which may increase after eating. Heartburn and cough are also common.
Achalasia occurs when the nerves that control the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, become damaged, interfering with the ability of the sphincter to relax and allow food to pass into the stomach. Researchers believe the damage may be the result of a faulty immune system response. Those with a family history of achalasia may also be more likely to develop the condition. People with achalasia often also have reduced muscle activity (peristalsis) throughout the entire esophagus.
Because it causes symptoms similar to other digestive disorders, achalasia can be very difficult to diagnose. In addition to a medical history including a review of symptoms, you may need to undergo diagnostic testing to evaluate the disease and to eliminate similar disease. Tests may include:
endoscopy to look inside your esophagus and to evaluate the function of the LES
high-resolution esophageal manometry, which uses a catheter to measure the function of your esophagus as you swallow
esophagram, an x-ray of your esophagus that uses barium as a contrast medium
Treatment involves helping the LES relax or forcing the sphincter to open so food passage is easier. An outpatients procedure called balloon dilation is one treatment options, and surgery are both possible options.
We currently participate with the following health care plans. For more information, please call the office.
"Dr. Jaffin has been my physician for over 15 years. Along with being an excellent diagnostician he is kind and caring and has always treated me with dignity."
"went to him for a colonoscopy and endoscopy. The office staff were very nice. The Dr. had a great bedside manner and appeared very competent."
"This is exemplary physician service. Dr. Jaffin is very bright, explains everything, takes patient education very seriously and is thorough and very kind."
"Excellent diagnostician as well as kind and caring. I will always be grateful to Dr. Jaffin!"
"Dr. Weiss was really great and thorough. He listened to all of my symptoms, outlined the procedures in the examination, and then explained the diagnosis and treatment."
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"Smart, conscientious, attentive and patient describe the what you get from Dr. Jaffin as a physician."
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" Dr Jaffin spends time answering your questions explaining the condition you are being treated for and not treating you like a number."