Causes and Diagnoses
Causes and Diagnoses of Achalasia
The exact cause of achalasia is unknown, but there are risk factors that may increase your chances of developing this condition, including:
- Genetics: Research has shown that the tendency for achalasia can be inherited from your parents.
- Weakened immune system: Any condition that suppresses your immune system can increase the chances of achalasia.
- Viral infection: Viruses, including the herpes simplex virus, are related to the development of achalasia.
- Age: Achalasia can happen at any age, but it most frequently occurs in people ages 30 to 60.
Tests to diagnose achalasia include:
- Fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES): A thin, lighted tube with a camera attached to it is passed through your mouth and esophagus. Your physician can look at pictures of your digestive tract and take a biopsy (tissue sample) for examination under a microscope.
- Esophagram/barium swallow: Special X-rays are taken of your esophagus after you drink barium, a contrast material that coats your esophagus and shows up well on X-rays.
- Pharyngeal manometry: A pressure-sensitive tube is passed through your nose and into your stomach to measure pressure inside your esophagus.
- pH monitoring: A nasogastric tube is passed through your nose into the lower esophagus for 24 hours to monitor the acid level in your esophagus.