This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).
Achalasia is a disorder of the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. It is characterized by enlargement of the esophagus, impaired ability of the esophagus to push food down toward the stomach (peristalsis), and failure of the ring-shaped muscle at the bottom of the esophagus (the lower esophageal sphincter) to relax. Achalasia is typically diagnosed in individuals between 25 and 60 years of age. The exact etiology is unknown, however, symptoms are caused by damage to the nerves of the esophagus. Familial studies have shown evidence of a potential genetic influence. When a genetic influence is suspected, achalasia is called familial esophageal achalasia. Treatment is aimed at reducing the pressure at the lower esophageal sphincter and may include Botox, medications, or surgery.
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