Esophageal disorders can be very frustrating to deal with, especially because they take away the enjoyment of things we often take for granted.

Eating, for example, can become a nerve-wracking activity. People who suffer from Achalasia often find it difficult to eat, and the struggle that comes from it can affect them as much mentally as it does physically.

What is Achalasia?

The term achalasia, which is Greek for “failure to relax”, defines an esophageal disorder that occurs when nerve fibers in the esophagus are damaged. The damage weakens the muscles in the esophagus and prevents the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) from properly relaxing or opening.

The weekend muscles make it difficult to swallow, push food down the throat, or relax the LES so that it may open to let food pass through.

Because the damaged nerve fibers that cause Achalasia cannot be cured, the treatment options generally focus on temporarily or permanently relaxing the muscles in the LES so that the patient is able to swallow and pass food through the LES into the stomach.  

Balloon Dilation As A Treatment Option

While there are several treatment options for dealing with Achalasia, the best nonsurgical treatment known to provide lasting effects is a Balloon Dilation.

Balloon Dilation is an endoscopic procedure during which the tube passes a small balloon through the patient’s mouth and into their throat. Using a camera at the end of the tube, the doctor brings the balloon into the LES and gently inflates the balloon.

This causes the LES muscles to stretch and weaken, thus returning the ability to swallow and allowing the LES to remain open so that food may push through into the stomach.

Though the effects of the procedure aren’t as long-lasting as those of the surgical option Heller Myotomy, which cuts the LES muscles, Balloon Dilations are a great option in Achalasia cases that are not severe, or for patients who are not good candidates for surgery.

The noninvasive endoscopic procedure is known to be about 70% to 80% effective and requires a very short recovery time. If the procedure is not sufficiently effective the first time around, patients may choose to repeat the Balloon Dilation or proceed to the Heller Myotomy surgical procedure.

Have you been diagnosed with Achalasia and are looking for treatment options? Schedule an appointment at Tampa Bay Reflux Center.