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Canadian Respiratory Journal
Volume 18, Issue 2, Pages 81-83
Case Report

An 11-Year-Old Male Patient with Refractory Asthma and Heartburn

Tareq Al-Abdoulsalam1 and Mark A Anselmo2

1Division of Respiratory Medicine, Montreal Children’s Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
2Division of Respiratory Medicine, Alberta Children’s Hospital, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Copyright © 2011 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Achalasia is characterized by obstruction of the distal esophagus and subsequent dilation of the proximal esophagus, and is considered to be a rare disorder in children. Patients commonly present with gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms such as dysphagia; however, pulmonary symptoms may also occur. Rare pulmonary symptoms due to achalasia are dyspnea and wheeze due to tracheal compression. The authors describe an 11-year-old boy who was referred to a pediatric respiratory clinic for asthma that was not responsive to inhaled medications. The child presented with a one-year history of dyspnea on exertion, cough and wheeze. He also complained of chronic dyspepsia. The presence of GI symptoms, in addition to abnormalities on chest radiograph and spirometry, suggested the presence of achalasia. The diagnosis was confirmed and the patient subsequently underwent surgical myotomy that relieved his GI and pulmonary symptoms, and normalized spirometry. The present article is an illustrative case report to remind pediatricians to consider other diagnoses when a patient does not respond to asthma medications.