Welcome to the Achalasia Support Group


The Achalasia Support Group welcome those facing gastric difficulties or individuals experiencing difficulty swallowing or eating food. Whatever your circumstances, the Achalasia Support Group are here to offer support, and we hope you will consider joining us at our next group meeting. We meet regularly and details of our next meetings will be updated here regularly.

You may be interested in the Achalasia leaflet produced by the OPA: Achalasia Leaflet

Achalasia is a motility disorder, affecting how food is taken down the oesophagus into the stomach. Normally, the muscles contract in a series of coordinated moves that progressively push the food down, past the lower oesophageal sphincter and into the stomach. This process is called peristalsis. Achalasia often involves the nerve endings of the muscles (rather than the muscles themselves) not working properly. Consequently food simply remains in the oesophagus for longer than it should, and may not pass through the sphincter into the stomach, except by gravity.

Sometimes the sphincter is clamped tight shut. The weight of the food can eventually lead to the oesophagus getting 'baggy.' Food can remain there and ferment, causing the sufferer to have to remove the food through a mixture of vomiting and manual manipulation. It can affect people at quite a young age, and patients often spend a long time before their condition is diagnosed. Young people can sometimes be misdiagnosed as suffering from an eating disorder like bulimia.

If the muscles contract together rather than in sequence, it can cause a very painful chest pain from the muscles going into spasm, often described as if it is a heart attack.

Meeting Schedule 2017

Contact Amanda Ladell on 0208 372 9647 or email amandaladell@yahoo.co.uk.

Date                        Time          Venue                                                     
Sunday 20th August 2017 14:00 Marriot Hotel, 140 Park Lane, London W1K 7AA

Sunday 10th September 2017

14:00 Marriot Hotel, 140 Park Lane, London W1K 7AA

Sunday 8th October 2017

14:00 Marriot Hotel, 140 Park Lane, London W1K 7AA

Sunday 12th November 2017

14:00 Marriot Hotel, 140 Park Lane, London W1K 7AA

We request that all members RSVP to meetings so we have an idea of numbers. For further details, or to RSVP, please go to our page on Meetup.com.

Question Time on Achalasia (Including Spasms) - Majid Hashemi

Following on from our very successful meetings in the past few years, we are very fortunate to be able to set up a further meeting with Majid Hashemi, consultant upper GI surgeon.

This meeting will be looking at all aspects of achalasia, with a special focus on spasms, their triggers and possible solutions.

There will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions and to share experiences with other achalasians.

The meeting will be held on the third floor of Brampton House at the St John and St Elizabeth Hospital, 60 Grove End Road, St John's Wood, London NW6 9NH, on Monday, 4th September at 5.30pm.

We have limited space available at the venue, so please book promptly if you would like a place.

Please book on the London Achalasia Meetup site:

Question Time on Achalasia (Including Spasms)

We are inviting contributions of £5 per head to help with meeting costs.

Meeting Venue

Marriot Hotel

140 Park Lane




Diagnosis and Treatment

It is important to have a thorough test to arrive at the best diagnosis.   This usually comprises a barium swallow test (where you swallow special liquid that can be watched through an x-ray machine as it progresses); an endoscopy (a miniature camera put down your throat) to examine your oesophagus for any obstructions or other issues; and often a manometry test (a special device that measures pressure at various points in your oesophagus to find out which part is most affected).

Having a thorough diagnosis at an early stage gives a much better chance of having the best outcome at an earlier stage.   So it is important not to assume that one treatment rather than another will always be the best option.

Sometimes, treatment consists of dilatation (stretching the lower oesophageal sphincter by means of an endoscope), or botox.   Sometimes these provide relief on a short term rather than long term basis

Sometimes a myotomy is performed, where incision(s) are made to relax the lower oesophageal sphincter to allow the food to pass through more easily.   But because this may also allow stomach acid to rise, part of the top of the stomach is wrapped around the oesophagus to create a more effective valve.

Very recently a new procedure called POEM (for per oral endoscopic myotomy) has been developed that involved cutting muscles within the wall of the oesophagus.   The procedure is controversial in Britain, and may well not have the support of all surgeons.  

Because the condition is associated with the nerve system, it will not be uncommon for stress and tension to make the problem worse.   Medical interventions will sometimes improve the situation, but avoiding stress and tension, and trying to relax whilst eating and allow food to be digested, will invariably help as a parallel track after medical treatment.   Suffering from achalasia is a very frustrating, stressful and sometimes painful experience that sometimes involved significant loss of weight.

Sometimes medication can help.

Achalasia is a rare condition, and one needs to find a specialist who is familiar with it for the best treatment.

Previous Meetings

The first meeting of the group was in December 2013 when 44 people attended, almost certainly the largest such group in Europe. The second meeting was held in December 2014.

Dr Majid Hashemi at the Dec 13 meeting   

Surgeon Majid Hashemi explains achalasia

44 achalasia sufferers came to a meeting on Thursday 12 December 2013 held at Brampton House, Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, 60 Grove End Road, St John''s Wood, London NW8 9NH, perhaps one of the largest gatherings of achalasia sufferers ever held.   Consultant Surgeon Mr Majid Hashemi explained many aspects of achalasia and answered questions. Dr Rehan Haidry, a consultant gastroenterologist also made a presentation. A provisional summary of the meeting can be seen here

The notes from the meeting in December 2013 are here

The notes from the meeting in December 2014 are here

There are some tips for sufferers in the notes above, and for anyone suffering from oral thrush, you may find the attached experience of one of the members useful (click here).


Useful Links

A Patient's Guide to Achalasia Download the Achalasia Patient Booklet as a PDF
Achalasia Leaflet by the OPA Download the Achalasia Leaflet as a PDF
Achalasia Internet Forum  http://www.patient.co.uk/forums/discuss/browse/oesophageal-achalasia-and-spasm-1655
Patient Story - Annie Manning Annie
Patient Story - Greame Greame


Getting in touch

If you would like to get in touch with the Achalasia Support Group, please contact Amanda Ladell at amandaladell@yahoo.co.uk or call 0208 372 9647.

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