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Conditions We Treat: Achalasia

Achalasia is a swallowing disorder caused by loss of function in the lower esophageal sphincter (the muscular ring at the junction of the esophagus and the stomach). Normally, when people swallow, the sphincter relaxes to allow food and liquid to pass into the stomach. With achalasia, that sphincter does not relax, which causes food to lodge in that area.

Achalasia: What You Need to Know

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  • Achalasia is a rare disorder with about eight to 12 people per 100,000 diagnosed.
  • The mean age for the onset of achalasia ranges between 30 to 60 years, with a peak in the forties.
  • The disorder is more prevalent in men than women, with a ratio of about 2 to 1.
  • Achalasia causes symptoms of coughing, choking, regurgitation, dysphagia and food retention in the esophagus.
  • The goal of treatment for achalasia is to decrease the resistance of the esophagus, allowing food to flow through the lower esophageal sphincter.

Patient Resources

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Why choose Johns Hopkins Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology for swallowing disorders?

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Our Physicians

Our physicians have years of experiencing diagnosing and treating even the most challenging swallowing disorders.

Meet our physicians:
POEM procedure

Our Patient Education

The per-oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) is a relatively new surgical treatment for achalasia.

Learn what POEM is and how it works in this video.

Watch a video of a patient who was treated successfully with POEM.