Achalasia is a rare disease of the muscle of the lower esophageal body and the lower esophageal sphincter that prevents relaxation of the sphincter and an absence of contractions, or peristalsis, of the esophagus. The cause of achalasia is unknown; however, there is degeneration of the esophageal muscles and, more importantly, the nerves that control the muscles. Common symptoms of achalasia include difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia), chest pain, and regurgitation of food and liquids. Complications of achalasia include lung problems and weight loss. Achalasia may increase the risk of cancer of the esophagus, but this not well established. Achalasia can be diagnosed by X-ray, endoscopy, or esophageal manometry. Treatments for achalasia include oral medications, dilation or stretching of the esophagus, surgery, and injection of muscle-relaxing medicines (botulinum toxin) directly into the esophagus.

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