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Dysphagia. 1990;5(4):216-9.

Symptoms of achalasia in young women mistaken as indicating primary anorexia nervosa.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Vienna, Austria.


The case of a young women with dysphagia, regurgitation, and weight loss, who was diagnosed as having anorexia nervosa but in whom reevaluation showed that achalasia was causing the symptoms, is presented together with related observations. Misinterpretation of esophageal symptoms may occur not only as a consequence of inadequate history taking and of being biased by a patient's emaciation, age, and gender, which leads to view certain aspects of the patient's history and behavior as suggesting a pathologic attitude towards eating and body weight, but also as a consequence of a misinterpretation of the symptoms as indicative of an eating disorder by the patients themselves. In some cases a disordered attitude toward eating and body weight may develop together or coexist with achalasia. The clinical evaluation of patients with symptoms suggestive of anorexia nervosa but also of bulimia nervosa should include the taking of a thorough history regarding swallowing and vomiting in order to recognize a possible esophageal motor disorder.

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