Achalasia services offered in Waldorf, MD

Achalasia happens when the muscles in your esophagus don’t work, which prevents food and liquid from moving into your stomach. The GI Associates of Maryland team of elite gastroenterology experts offers compassionate care for achalasia in their Waldorf, Maryland, office and endoscopy center. From medication to minimally invasive procedures and surgery, the team can cover all your needs and help you eat and drink normally again. Call the office or book your appointment online now. 

Achalasia Q & A

What is achalasia?

Achalasia is a rare disorder in which problems with your esophagus (food tube) cause difficulty swallowing. Typically, food and liquids travel through your mouth, down your esophagus, and into your stomach. 

The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a muscle ring at the end of the esophagus. It opens to allow food to enter your stomach and then closes. This process prevents food from refluxing (backing up). 

When you have achalasia, the LES doesn’t relax, so your food can’t get into your stomach, which can lead to an accumulation of food and saliva in your esophagus, putting pressure on the esophagus and causing it to widen. 

I have difficulty swallowing. Is it achalasia?

Difficulty swallowing might be achalasia, but that symptom can also occur with esophageal strictures (narrowing), esophageal tumors, diffuse muscle spasms, and other conditions. 

Some other symptoms common in people with achalasia include:

  • Heartburn
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing (often when lying down)
  • Regurgitation of food
  • Weight loss
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Aspiration: inhalation of food, saliva, or liquid into the lungs

With difficulty swallowing, these symptoms can also occur in other conditions. So, to determine whether you have achalasia, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), esophageal strictures, or another issue, you need an evaluation at GI Associates of Maryland. 

The team can perform tests in their endoscopy center to diagnose achalasia, such as esophageal manometry, upper endoscopy, and barium swallow tests. 

Is achalasia treatable?

Achalasia is treatable. The GI Associates of Maryland providers work one-on-one with you to determine the best treatment plan for you, with some options being: 

  • Medications that help open the narrowed part of your esophagus
  • Endoscopic procedure to stretch the esophagus
  • Botox® injections to relax the LES (performed via endoscopy)

The team doesn’t rush to surgery, but if you need surgery to get lasting symptom relief, they can perform minimally invasive procedures. For example, a laparoscopic Heller myotomy creates tiny incisions in the LES, allowing it to open more easily. 

It’s common to develop GERD after a Heller myotomy. To prevent this, the team often performs fundoplication simultaneously as the Heller myotomy, which wraps the top portion of the stomach around the LES to strengthen it. 

Call GI Associates of Maryland or click on the provided online scheduler for help with swallowing issues today.