According to a story from greeleytribune.com, a couple has been working to form a nonprofit to help spread awareness about an unusual rare disease called achalasia, which can cause the esophagus to become paralyzed. Kasie Evans, aged thirty, was suddenly affected by the disease, which she initially mistook for heartburn. However, before long, the only thing she could keep down were M&Ms and water, and it eventually got to the point that she couldn’t eat anything.
Achalasia is a disease of the esophagus in which the smooth muscles do not relax normally. As a result, the lower sphincter of the esophagus, where food passes into the stomach, will not open. In most cases, the cause of the condition is unknown. However, research has found that people with achalasia lack a certain type of ganglion cell; some scientists think that there may be an autoimmune component to the condition, perhaps triggered by viral infection. The primary symptoms of achalasia are trouble swallowing, weight loss, chest pain, and the regurgitation of food. The chest pain may become severe and can be mistaken for a heart attack. This progressive condition is usually treated with sublingual nifedipine, surgery, or other medications. To learn more about achalasia, click here.
The difficult and frustrating diagnostic process convinced Kasie and her husband Tim that greater awareness of this condition was direly needed, both for the general public and the medical community. It took two years for Kasie to get diagnosed, and this delay meant that her health declined severely. Her teeth were getting damaged from regurgitated stomach acid, her hair was falling out, she was dehydrated, and her weight became dangerously low. At one point, she weighed just 85 pounds. Many doctors thought she had an eating disorder. Others told her that it she may have mental illness.
Recovery and Spreading Awareness
Kasie also couldn’t eat before bed without the risk of choking on regurgitated food, and she was plagued by painful spasms. She eventually received surgery for her achalasia, which has allowed her to eat again, but her diet is limited and she still needs plenty of liquid to wash things down.