Archive for the ‘Achalasia’ Category

Achalasia Blog Wins Snippet Fact Award!

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Thursday, January 17, 2013

facts about everything

We are proud to announce that our partner blog, Understanding Achalasia from a Patient’s Perspective, has won the prestigious Snippet Fact Award. This award is a signature of the trusted content provided and shows users that the content on is approved and verified by is a community built ‘facts only’ website, created to improve factual content on the web, and make a more trustworthy and fun resource to discover information, and improve intelligence. Founded by a community who enjoy to learn and who are dedicated to improving their own intelligence, whilst helping the quality of online factual content progress. Because it is community based, information is rated by voting on facts that users know to be true. This way, you can see how trusted that fact is, and how credible that information is before republishing it on your own website or blog.

Because is a project designed to improve the quality of online factual content, they want to promote and encourage this on other websites too! Understanding Achalasia from a Patient’s Perspective was awarded the following reasons: accurate and precise informational content, interesting and inviting layout and/or writing style, reliable source for trustworthy content, and unique and entertaining information.

The achalasia blog, like all of our networked blogs (see links on the side of the page), is maintained with the highest standards of writing. Understanding Achalasia from a Patient’s Perspective is dedicated to providing informational resources for those suffering from achalasia, a rare disease that affects approximately 200,000 people throughout the US; and shares the personal story of our founder, Karen Jean Matsko Hood, as she lives with achalasia and struggles to bring this little-known disease to the public eye. While the main focus of the blog is achalasia, our articles provide a wealth of information on various topics that can educate and improve the reader. We are proud to be recognized for our efforts by, and we hope to see you on all our blogs!


Autoimmune Diseases and Oral Disease

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Autoimmune diseases are the result of the body responding in an inappropriate manner to normal tissues and/or substances present in the body, causing prolonged inflammation followed by tissue destruction.  The body is fooled and can’t recognize the difference between healthy tissue and disease.  The body, therefore, mounts an immune response (directs antibodies against its own tissues) against itself, as if allergic to itself.  The cause of this dysfunctional behavior is unknown, it may be caused by a drug or toxin or bacterial or viral infection or environmental exposure to foreign substances.  The result of the body’s inability to recognize the difference between normal tissue and disease results in destruction.  As we age, this alone causes our immune system to decline in effectiveness.  Autoimmune diseases affect over 24 million Americans and are one of our society’s leading causes of death and disability.  Autoimmune diseases are ranked as the number one cause of heart disease, cancer, and all diseases.

A couple of the most common autoimmune diseases are diabetes (Type 1), rheumatoid arthritis, and allergies.  Many autoimmune diseases also may have a genetic or traumatic component.

Here is a short additional list of autoimmune diseases and more are being discovered all the time.  All of these diseases should have the autoimmune prefix:

Achalasia Pancreatitis
Addison’s disease Parkinson’s disease
Behcet’s disease Pemphigus/pemphigoid
Celiac disease Pernicious anemia
Crohn’s disease Polymyositis
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Reactive arthritis
Dermatomyositis Rheumatic fever
Eosinophilic esophagitis Sarcoidosis
Fibromyalgia Scleroderma
Graves disease Sjögren’s syndrome
Guillain–Barre syndrome Systemic lupus erythematosis
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis Ulcerative colitis
Hepatitis Uveitis
IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) Vitiligo
Menier’s disease Wegener’s granulomatosis
Multiple Sclerosis Wilson’s disease
Myasthenia gravis


Autoimmune Disease Causes:  The immune system is also thought to be suppressed by multiple factors, including abuse of:

  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • tobacco
  • sugar (this cannot be over-emphasized)
  • drugs
  • food (poor diet or contaminated with herbicides, hormones, etc.)
  • sleep (lack of)

As well as exposure to environmental pollution, including:

  • automobile exhaust
  • chemical fertilizers
  • cigarette smoke
  • heavy metal
  • herbicides
  • industrial waste
  • pesticides
  • stress

So, what has autoimmune diseases and oral disease (periodontal disease and tooth decay) have in common?  Well, much more than one might think:  Plaque and calculus left on teeth cause inflammation, initially gingivitis, followed often by periodontal disease (which we used to refer to as periodontitis).  Any time you see –itis on the end of a word, it is screaming inflammation.  Remember:  it is always means it is inflammation.  Chronic inflammation causes destruction of tissue.  Periodontal disease causes destruction of all periodontal tissues, gum, bone, and periodontal ligament, causing loss of teeth.  Tooth decay causes loss of tooth structure.  Since periodontal tissues are all tissues supporting teeth in the mouth, without them – no teeth.How periodontal disease (inflammation of all periodontal tissues) leads to loss at of oral tissues, including teeth, is a simple model demonstration for what happens to a body with autoimmune diseases.Anything that a patient can do to minimize or eliminate inflammation will lessen the effects of the disease.  A few of the things a patient can do to lessen the effects of many of these diseases are to avoid abuse of/or exposure to the above mentioned factors.  Also, as always, eat lots of antioxidants found in fresh fruit and vegetables.  Include vitamin C, vitamin E, green tea extract, beta-carotene, grape seed-skin extract, coenzyme Q-10 (coQ10) and selenium in your diet.Also, talk to your dental and medical professionals on current treatments.  Find support groups, ask others with your particular autoimmune disease how they cope.Good luck…keep brushing and flossing,Dr. James G. Hood* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *Dental Care Associates of Spokane Valley, P.S.
Family and Cosmetic Dentistry Welcomes Patients
from Age 2 to 102!
James G. Hood, D.D.S., M.A.
507 North Sullivan Road, Suite A-1
Spokane Valley, WA 99037-8576  USA
Phone: (509) 928-9100  |  Fax: (509) 928-0414
Email: drhood@drhood.comWebsites:


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My Achalasia Story

posted by Karen Jean Matkso Hood
Monday, July 25, 2011

Dear Fellow Achalasia Patients,

I write this blog today during a beautiful, sunny Spokane, Washington, Sunday.  As I write I wonder how all of my fellow achalasia patients out there are doing.

Achalasia is a rare disease. I know from experience that it helps to talk to others who have the same affliction. It is hard to believe that October 4, 2011, will be the fourth anniversary of my repair surgery. Life is far better than it was for the seven years before the surgery.  Prior to that time, I was not aware of the term “achalasia.” Therefore, what I would like to tell all of you is that there is hope.  Do not struggle with your current situation, asprofessional help is available.

In my case I was officially diagnosed with achalasia in August 2007. I had no idea what achalasia was and was not particularly worried with the term.  Being as curious as I am, I immediately went home after my esophageal dilation procedure and waited for the anesthesia to fully leave my body so I could hop on the Internet and read exactly what achalasia was all about. Holy Molie! I became scared almost to death! There is truly frightening stuff out there on the Web. In fact, after reading the stuff, I thought I would be dying soon, and this was no happy thought!

I have a lot of people who depend on me and a lot of responsibilities in my life, so I began trying to take care of things in my now suddenly expected short life.  I called my doctor, and he said I most certainly was not near death, but I thought he was just trying to be optimistic and nice. I wasn’t having any of it!

To my husband’s dismay, I planned my own funeral arrangements to save him the trouble. Yep, I selected a simple coffin and a nice cemetery with a view. It seems that relaxation for me only takes place when I have a view. Weird as it may seem, I was at peace making time payments on my selected plot and even bought one for my husband next to me. Of course, he would not be using it for a long time after me, since he would have a long, healthy life, I figured. The thought of him marrying too soon, without a respectable time mourning my passing, was disturbing, so I pushed those thoughts right out of my mind. I was having enough trouble as it was.

Back to my achalasia. Now it was time to complete more research, so back to my computer I went. I ordered every natural remedy out there, although there were only a few at the time. Still hopeful in spite of my funeral planning, I faithfully followed directions on all of them. My physician told me there was no cure but that most achalasia patients live with the disease and do not die from it. Yipes! That was not reassuring.

My weight dropped 69 pounds suddenly. It scared my kids and my husband. Previously I was a tubby, but this was no way to lose weight. I could not get or keep much food down. My stomach sphincter was so tight that it would allow only a trickle of fluid through to my stomach.  My regurgitation was out of control, and since my diagnosis was vigorous achalasia, it brought the worst type of pain. Sometimes my esophageal pain would last an hour. My family timed it, and it seemed that I could not bear the duration of the pain. Often I would run out of the house and walk around the house, using my animal instinct to flee. Nothing worked and for the first time in my life I could understand people wanting to die because of pain.

Stay tuned for the second installment of my story. There is hope at the end of the tunnel.

Karen Jean Matsko Hood


Achalasia Support Group
James and Karen Hood Foundation
507 North Sullivan Road, Suite LL-6
Spokane Valley, WA 99037-8576 USA
Phone: (509) 924-3550 | Fax: (509) 922-9949




Autoimmune Disease Information

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Monday, October 11, 2010

Dr. James G. Hood and his partners at Dental Care Associates of Spokane Valley, P.S. provide dental care treatment to patients with autoimmune diseases. James G. Hood, D.D.S. has a special and personal interest in dental health and wellness for people with autoimmune diseases since he, his family members, and friends have been afflicted with various autoimmune diseases. Please call our office at 509-928-9100 if we can be of any assistance.

Dental Health and Nutrition Store provides home health care products, information books, and nutritional supplies for people that have autoimmune diseases. We will be adding more products in the future so bookmark our site and come back often.

Autoimmune diseases arise from an overactive immune response of the body against substances and tissues normally present in the body. In other words, the body attacks its own cells. The immune system mistakes some part of the body as a pathogen and attacks it. This may be restricted to certain organs (e.g. as in chagas disease) or involve a particular tissue in different places (e.g. Goodpasture’s disease which may affect the basement membrane in both the lung and the kidney). The treatment of autoimmune diseases is typically with immunosuppression—medication which decreases the immune response.

There is an on-going discussion about when a disease should be considered autoimmune, leading to different criteria such as Witebsky’s postulates. According to T. Colin Campbell in his book The China Study, Chapter 9, one of the main causes for autoimmune diseases exists in our diet: molecular mimicry between some animal and human proteins may cause the immune system (the white blood cells) to attack our own cells. In particular, Campbell mentions the inability of some persons’ digestive system to fully break down cow’s milk into amino acids. Other researches cite many other specific foods or food groups that may trigger autoimmune reactions. The remnants of these proteins are treated as foreign invader antigens by the immune system, which may then turn against other forms of closely similar proteins in our body.

In both autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, the condition arises through aberrant reactions of the human adaptive or innate immune systems. In autoimmunity, the patient’s immune system is activated against the body’s own proteins. In inflammatory diseases, it is the overreaction of the immune system, and its subsequent downstream signaling (TNF, IFN, etc), which causes problems.

A substantial minority of the population suffers from these diseases, which are often chronic, debilitating, and life-threatening. There are more than eighty illnesses caused by autoimmunity. It has been estimated that autoimmune diseases are among the ten leading causes of death among women in all age groups up to 65 years.

Currently, a considerable amount of research is being conducted into treatment of these conditions. According to a report from Frost & Sullivan, the total payouts by an alliance of leading pharmaceutical companies for drug discovery contract research in the autoimmune/inflammation segment from 1997 to 2002 totaled $489.8 million, where Eli Lilly, Suntory, Procter & Gamble, Encysive, and Novartis together account for 98.6 percent of payouts by that alliance.

Symptoms of Autoimmune Diseases: The symptoms of autoimmune diseases vary depending on the disease as well as the person’s immune system. Common symptoms include: inflammation, fatigue, dizziness, malaise, elevated fever and high body temperature, extreme sensitivity to cold in the hands and feet, weakness and stiffness in muscles and joints, weight changes, digestive or gastrointestinal problems, low or high blood pressure, irritability, anxiety, or depression, infertility or reduced sex drive (low libido), blood sugar changes. Depending on the type of autoimmune disease, an increase in the size of an organ or tissue or the destruction of an organ or tissue can result.

Dr. Hood’s wife, Karen Jean Matsko Hood, has suffered with Achalasia, an autoimmune disease, and thus, he is keenly aware of the symptoms and progress and wanted to offer helpful aids and products on this site.

Achalasia, also known as esophageal achalasia, achalasia cardiae, cardiospasm, and esophageal aperistalsis, is an esophageal motility disorder involving the smooth muscle layer of the esophagus and the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). It is characterized by incomplete LES relaxation, increased LES tone, and aperistalsis of the esophagus (inability of smooth muscle to move food down the esophagus) in the absence of other explanations like cancer or fibrosis.

Achalasia is characterized by difficulty swallowing, regurgitation, and sometimes chest pain. Diagnosis is reached with esophageal manometry and barium swallow radiographic studies. Various treatments are available, although none cure the condition. Certain medications or Botox may be used in some cases, but more permanent relief is brought by esophageal dilatation and surgical cleaving of the muscle (Heller myotomy).

The most common form is primary achalasia, which has no known underlying cause. It is due to the failure of distal esophageal inhibitory neurons. However, a small proportion occurs secondary to other conditions, such as esophageal cancer or Chagas disease (an infectious disease common in South America). Achalasia affects about one person in 100,000 per year.
Please visit our Achalasia Blog at

Dr. James G. Hood himself has Sjogren’s Disease.

Sjögren’s Syndrome (also known as “Mikulicz disease” and “Sicca syndrome”) is an autoimmune disorder in which immune cells attack and destroy the exocrine glands that produce tears and saliva.

It is named after Swedish ophthalmologist Henrik Sjögren (1899–1986) who first described it.

Nine out of ten Sjögren’s patients are women and the average age of onset is late 40s, although Sjögren’s occurs in all age groups in both women and men. It is estimated to strike as many as 4 million people in the United States alone making it the second most common autoimmune rheumatic disease.

Sjögren’s Syndrome can exist as a disorder in its own right (Primary Sjögren’s Syndrome) or it may develop years after the onset of an associated rheumatic disorder such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, primary biliary cirrhosis etc. (Secondary Sjögren’s Syndrome).

An autoantigen is alpha-Fodrin.

It should not be confused with the Sjögren–Larsson syndrome, also denoted T. Sjögren syndrome in early studies. Dr. James G. Hood has helped patients with symptoms of Sjogren’s Syndrome.

Signs and Symptoms

The hallmark symptoms of the disorder are dry mouth and dry eyes (part of what are known as sicca symptoms). In addition, Sjögren’s syndrome may cause skin, nose, and vaginal dryness, and may affect other organs of the body, including the kidneys, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas, peripheral nervous system (distal axonal sensorimotor neuropathy) and brain.

Sjögren’s syndrome causes increased levels of IL-1RA in CSF suggesting increased activity in the interleukin 1 system and that this is associated with increased fatigue through cytokine induced sickness behavior. Patients with secondary Sjögren’s syndrome also have signs and symptoms associated with rheumatic disorder. Many patients also have IBS symptoms due to slow gastric transit.

Diagnosis of Sjogren’s Syndrome

Diagnosing Sjögren’s syndrome is complicated by the range of symptoms a patient may manifest, and the similarity between symptoms from Sjögren’s syndrome and those caused by other conditions. Nevertheless, the combination of several tests can lead to a diagnosis of Sjögren’s syndrome.

Blood tests can be done to determine if a patient has high levels of antibodies that are indicative of the condition, such as anti-nuclear antibody (ANA) and rheumatoid factor (because SS frequently occurs secondary to rheumatoid arthritis), which are associated with autoimmune diseases. Typical Sjögren’s syndrome ANA patterns are SSA/Ro and SSB/La, of which SSB/La is far more specific; SSA/Ro is associated with numerous other autoimmune conditions but are often present in Sjögren’s. Please visit our Sjogren’s Blog at

Dental care

Preventive dental treatment is also necessary (and often overlooked by the patient), as the lack of saliva associated with xerostomia (dry mouth) creates an ideal environment for the proliferation of bacteria that cause dental caries (cavities). Treatments include at-home topical fluoride application to strengthen tooth enamel and frequent teeth cleanings by a dental hygienist. Existing cavities must also be treated, as cavities that extend into the tooth can not be effectively treated through teeth cleaning alone, and are at a high risk of spreading into the pulp of the tooth, leading to the loss of vitality and need for extraction or root canal therapy. This treatment regimen is the same as that used for all xerostomia patients, such as those undergoing head and neck radiation therapy which often damages the salivary glands, as they are more susceptible to radiation than other body tissues.