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What is esophageal dysmotility?

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Esophageal dysmotility refers to contractions in the esophagus that are absent, irregular or unsynchronized, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. These contractions move food toward to the stomach. Esophageal dysmotility can be caused by nerve diseases, surgery, narrowing of the esophagus and muscle problems.

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Some of the more common causes of esophageal dysmotility include neurologic and neuromuscular disease, Johns Hopkins Medicine states. Other causes include throat surgeries, such as tracheostomy, laryngectomy and cervical dissection. Sometimes, no underlying cause is determined.

Other conditions that lead to esophageal dysmotility include achalasia and esophageal spasm. Achalasia is a condition in which the lower esophageal sphincter doesn't relax, Johns Hopkins Medicine reports. Esophageal spasm refers to contractions that become uncoordinated, usually as a result of damage to the nerves in the esophageal wall.

Conditions that narrow the esophagus also cause esophageal dysmotility, Johns Hopkins Medicine adds. They include webs, rings, scarring from inflammation and malignant tumors.

Treatment for esophageal dysmotility depends on the cause, Johns Hopkins Medicine explains. A narrowed esophagus may require surgery or dilation through endoscopy. Esophageal spasm is treated with muscle relaxants and, sometimes, antidepressants.

Achalasia treatment is geared toward weakening the lower esophageal sphincter so that it relaxes enough to open for food to pass to the stomach, notes Johns Hopkins Medicine. Sometimes, a balloon dilator, Botox injections or surgery are used to treat achalasia.

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