Donate to Achalasia Research, Patient Care and Education

Achalasia is a disorder that prevents the esophagus (the tube that links the back of the throat to the stomach) from pushing food and liquid into the stomach. In patients with achalasia, the muscles in the lower portion of the esophagus do not relax enough to allow food to easily pass. By making a donation to Northwestern Memorial Foundation, you will help physicians and other care providers at Northwestern Medicine to continue to provide the very finest care to people affected by achalasia.

The symptoms of achalasia develop slowly but become more prevalent as the esophagus becomes wider and weaker. People with achalasia may experience heartburn, chest pain, burping or hiccups, difficulty swallowing food, regurgitation, night waking from coughing due to regurgitation and weight loss. Several complications also can arise, such as:

  • Esophageal perforation: Backed up food causes a hole in the esophagus
  • Esophageal cancer: Caused by the continual irritation of the esophagus lining
  • Aspiration pneumonia: Backed up food is inhaled into the lungs

Scientists still are not certain about the underlying causes of achalasia, but with your support, scientists and physicians at Northwestern Medicine can advance crucial achalasia research. At this time, several risk factors for achalasia have been identified,including:

  • Genetics
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Being between the ages of 30 and 60
  • Having the herpes simplex virus or other viral infection

Currently, there are no available treatments to bring back the normal movement of the esophagus. Those with achalasia can receive treatment to relieve symptoms, improve the emptying of the esophagus and prevent complications in the future. At Northwestern Medicine, scientists and clinicians are making great strides toward finding more effective treatments for achalasia. Right now, common treatments for achalasia include:

  • Botox injection: Botox can be injected into the esophageal muscles to relax the valve opening
  • Pneumatic dilation: An air-filled balloon is passed through a valve between the esophagus and stomach
  • Surgery: The muscles of the lower esophageal sphincter are cut during a procedure called a myotomy
  • Medicines: Calcium channel blockers and long-acting nitrates are commonly used to treat achalasia

Achalasia Research, Patient Care and Education Donation

Your donation to Northwestern Memorial Foundation will have a significant and positive effect on achalasia research that is underway at Northwestern Medicine, and on the treatment options that are available for people affected by this condition. Through your generosity, you can be part of new solutions, and new hope, for patients with achalasia.

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