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Achalasia is a disorder in which the esophageal sphincter does not relax when food passes down the esophagus to the stomach. As a result, the esophagus becomes distended and filled with food, and food passes into the stomach very slowly.
Achalasia is often associated with chest pain during eating, weight loss, and regurgitation of food. The esophagus becomes distended as food and liquid are unable to pass into the stomach.
Review Date 10/25/2021
Updated by: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.