Loading icon
Press enter or spacebar to select a desired language.
Health Information Center


  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:



(Esophageal Achalasia)


Achalasia is a rare issue where food has trouble moving through the esophagus, the muscular tube that connects the mouth to the stomach.


Achalasia is caused by a breakdown in the nerve cells in the esophagus. The reason why this happens is not known.

Risk Factors

There are no known risk factors for this problem.


The most common symptom is having trouble swallowing solids and liquids. It may cause swallowed foods to be brought back up into the mouth.

A person with achalasia may also have:

  • Heartburn
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Pain in the upper part of the abdomen
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Coughing
  • Hoarse or sore throat
  • Losing weight without trying
Heartburn / Reflux Disease.

Gastroesophageal Refluxhttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=24722472si1347.jpgGastroesophageal RefluxNULLjpgGastroesophageal RefluxNULL\\filer01\Intellect\images\si1347.jpgCopyright © 2002 Nucleus Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.26NULL2002-10-012553912472_22249Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

These tests may be done to look at the esophagus:

Manometry may be done to confirm a person has achalasia. It uses a tube to test the pressure in the esophagus and the stomach when swallowing.


The goal of treatment is to allow food and liquids to pass to the stomach. Ways to do this are:

  • Surgery to cut the muscles in the esophagus to let food pass
  • Medicines such as:
    • Muscle relaxants
    • Calcium channel blockers to ease pressure in the esophagus
  • Botulinum toxin injections into the muscles to relax them
  • Pneumatic dilation to stretch the muscles in the esophagus

There is no cure for achalasia.


Achalasia cannot be prevented.





  • Achalasia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/achalasia.
  • Achalasia and esophageal motility disorders. The Society of Thoracic Surgeons website. Available at: https://ctsurgerypatients.org/lung-esophageal-and-other-chest-diseases/achalasia-and-esophageal-motility-disorders.
  • Pandolfino, J.E. and Gawron, A.J. Achalasia: a systematic review. JAMA, 2015; 313 (18): 1841-1852.


  • James P. Cornell, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.