Tips for coping with Achalasia

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Helpful Tips Collated from Fellow Achalasia Patients

NB These have not been vetted by the medical profession but are what have worked for some of us

Tips for coping

1 Eat smaller meals more frequently.

2 Eat slowly and chew well

3 Don’t eat too late

4 Beware of eating when feeling stressed

5 Eat fairly moist food

6 Lifting the chest and taking a deep breath also helps.

7 Keep a small bottle of water handy in case one’s oesophageal muscles go into spasm when out and about

8 Don’t have drinks too cold

9 Eat early in the evening

10 Don’t drink before bedtime

11 Don’t eat too many nibbles such as crisps and nuts or drink too many glasses of wine before a meal in the evening (I know one should only have 1 or 2 glasses of wine but . . . !)

12 A good start to the day is a fruit smoothie using a wide variety of fruit liquidised with a live yoghurt and probiotic (actimel) and a good teaspoon of manuka honey.

13 Multigrain toast with Somerset brie is also a favourite, helped down with hot water.

14 With a good variety of nutrients early in the day, I don't have to worry about having to eat much else. Ironically, that then makes it easier to eat.

15 Always have a drink with the meals: sparkling types can be beneficial, and gulps between every few mouthfuls help

16 My most important factor in managing my eating has been drinking hot water (temperature is important - half cold and half boiling). Mastering a technique which worked for me took time, but is worth it because I am now comfortable eating out and the only downside is the copious amounts of hot water I might need to drink to get the food down. The technique involves judging how much food I can eat before I have to gulp down some water.

17 Soups are a good way of eating a variety of nutrients as they can be liquidised. I include all vegetables and pulses and experiment to get something I really like, sometimes topped with cheddar cheese.

18 I avoid eating skins on fruit and veg, but do churn them up in smoothies and soups

19 I avoid fatty meat and eat mostly chicken, fish or vegetarian dishes. I can even manage pizza if I drink enough hot water with it.

20 I also avoid spicy food and drinking alcohol with food is very difficult.

21 Salads are best eaten with lots of dressing and in small quantities.

22 Be aware of the types of food you personally need to avoid, and what can be digested easily.

23 I avoid the following:-

a) Large lumps of meat. The only meat I consider eating is mince usually in the form of a cottage or shepherd’s pie.

b) Dry chicken can be a problem. Meat in a sauce or casserole is usually better than anything else.

c) Pasta of any sort.

d) Too much bread. I can eat crackers better than bread.

e) Potatoes can be a problem if boiled but thin french fries are not too bad.

f) Rice. My first bad experience of Achalasia was with a dish of paella. Fried rice is better than fluffy stuff.

g) Spotted dick or similar dry sponge puddings are avoided.

24 Food that gives me little trouble:-

i) Soup

ii) Fish - salmon or battered cod seem good.

iii) Salads

iv) Stir-fry food is usually fine

v) Funnily enough quiche or similar is usually not a problem

vi) Cheese with crackers

vii) For dessert ice cream is best.

25 Basically it seems it is the consistency of the food which has more influence than anything.

26 Don’t eat too much bread in one sitting and eat good quality bread rather than soft white bread which is particularly bad for blocking the oesophagus

27 Avoid very dry food like falafels, raw cauliflower, raw carrot

28 Best foods were weetabix, readybrek, custard, sponge puddings and mashed potato. . Not the most healthy range but I was advised by the dietician at the hospital that it was more important to keep my calorie intake up than eat healthily.

I was prescribed Fortisip milkshakes which were a lifesaver as they are full of vitamins and nutrients.

29 Probiotic pills/Acidophilus powder as a major part of immune system is in one’s gut

30 Echinacea and Manuka honey to boost immune system

31 Sleep propped up with lots of pillows (before the operation) to help stop food and drink coming back up at night

32 A bed wedge is a useful alternative to lots of pillows to keep you propped up at night.

33 I always finish the day with a good teaspoon of manuka honey and lemon juice in hot water. This is after I have ensured as much as much as possible that all food has been washed down. That way I am left with manuka honey in my oesophagus overnight. I haven't had a cold for the last couple of years so I think it might have given me some protection.

34 Relaxation helps to avoid spasms and pain with the sphincter.

35 I find yoga helps as does drinking hot water to relieve the pain.

36 Pain from the sphincter can be avoided by warming up cold food and drink in the mouth first before allowing it to go down. Avoid letting the chest get cold. Cold wind can set up pain. |I wear a scarf even if I don't feel cold.

37 Talk to other Achalasia sufferers. It helps so much to know you’re not alone!!

7 likes, 86 replies

86 Replies

  • Posted

    Ann Elms and Amanda Ladell, who run the London meetup Group, would like anyone who would like to speak about their experiences with other Achalasia sufferers, to email them.

    They meet up every 4 months - therefore please contact them for the next meeting date if you would like to share your experiences.


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  • Posted

    Thank you so much for those tips. I have just been diagnosed this week with Achalasia after being misdiagnosed with acid reflux since I was 14 (I'm 24 now). I am so relieved I wasn't going crazy as I was beginning to think well maybe I am bringing on the symptoms as I imagine them! I can rlate to everything you are saying above and some of those tips are what I've been doing to live with it, not knowing it was a condition. Thank you!!
  • Posted

    This is excellent advice. I wish that I had read this two years ago when my condition started to get much worse. I had achalasia (but tried to ignore it) for several years previously. Did not go to doctor until I could not swallow after a meal. Silly of me, but common. I ended up in hospital, which led to diagnosis and the operation three months later.

    RICE was always the worse thing, and it still causes a problem, so I now avoid it. I had the operation last summer. Much better now, but still have problems if I eat too quickly. Also it is essential to drink plenty of water with a meal. I always start the day with porridge. Yogurt is a good sweet.

    Thank you for the information.

  • Posted

    Yes Rice is the worst thing ever...I ate it only 2 times since I had this case, and I had to vomit to be able to breath!

    Bread is so bad also, crackers are okay, salads are great, corn flakes is well swallowed too.

    I avoid meat/chicken/fish chunks...i need saucy stuff.

    Pasta is okay for me...

    But my main problem is that I have been a fast eater all my life...i dont chew and i cannot stop this nowsad

    I get spasms all the time too in my sphincter very bad ones that i burst in tears...

    • Posted

      For spasms ask your doctor for Dicyclomine Hcl 20mg tabs.  The Dicyclomine was a life (and wallet) saver.  Any time I start to feel like my chest will spasm I take 1/2 a tab, which usually works.  If it doesn't work I take the other 1/2.  I had surgery 3 months ago and have only used 1/2 pill once. Good luck.

    • Posted

      late to the game but the Medication you mention is a life saver. I can take 20mg tabs up to 4 times a day, but never have needed that.  Right after pneumatic distillation I needed it several times a day but in past 2-3 months I find little need for it. 
  • Posted

    o.m.g. how do you manage corn flakes .i love them but they are the worst thing ever for me.and i can eat rice ,wholemeal bread.ryvita, but not crackers.

    I had op last year and swallowing is going downhill already,but hopefully i can maintain it with being careful.


    • Posted

      Just goes to show you that not everyone experiances the same effects after surgery. I had the Hellers Myotomy 3 years ago and as long as I chew my food well and not take large mouth fulls, I have no problem with corn flakes, any type of rice, but at times fresh soft bread could be a problem. So far so good knock on wood.
  • Posted

    Hi all

    I could'nt agree more with this post and and even before coming across tips for coping with achalaisa i was finding myself doing many of these things to cope with this condition so for those of you who are struggling with achalaisa i hope my comments lift this post back to the first page where it belongs

    cheers all


    p.s. i still have difficulties with just drinking water

  • Posted

    Hi All,. If I can just reiterate (for anyone new reading this forum) on this part of the suffering of achalasia and

    the do's and dont's,.....please bear in mind that what works for some will not necessarily work for everyone.

    To recap, Ive had the condition for well over forty years now and have never had medication or treatment of

    any kind. To stem the pain of indigestion that occurred habitually in my early days (and I got this severely and on a prolonged basis at times, sometimes for days on end) I used Asilone powder mixed with water or

    very often sucked extra strong mints to quell the attacks.

    One thing I did discover is that stress of any kind will play havoc with controlling the way in which you attempt to swallow your food. This point has been raised by many and my experiences and findings certainly

    confirm that eliminating all the bad "thought" stresses that one encounters without a shadow of doubt does with careful relaxation help immensely when eating.

    Many say that fizzy drinks help, some, as above have said that only hot or warm drinks taken or gulped down do the trick. Others say only cold, and if anyone is like me then the drinks have to be iced up to the max before I can even consider any eating. I do know that if the only water taken by me is even so much as tepid (from the tap) or is straight from the supermarket shelf I know by experience that trying to gulp that down would ensure that Id be sprawled across the floor within seconds of any attempt to swallow. This is the problem with achalasia it is such a random condition (the only common factor being the inability to swallow in itself)

    that it affects everyone in so many different ways. I cannot begin to imagine how anyone reaching adulthood or later being suddenly afflicted with it manages to cope. In some ways Im lucky because it started with me so very early and so Ive been able to educate myself to take control so that it hasnt totally ruined my life.

    Regarding the foods, the only thing I have to watch is undercooked or rare meat, almost a complete "no no" or bread that is over doughy. If Im honest I dont do well with slippery or soup like foods either, which

    probably contradicts other sufferers abilities, where they can intake these. This is probably because I force absolutely everything (including other drinks) down with maximum chilled water. Strange isnt it that

    one liquid has to be forced down with another one, but thats just my case. There again, I chose never to be treated for this condition and the only thing truly it has gravely affected is that it has limited my social eventing but on the positive side has controlled my weight to the absolute degree because of the disciplined approach needed to intake food.

    Bless you all. I know what you go through


    • Posted

      I drink soda water quite a bit but will have an occasional glass of wine with dinner or drink a beer or two when I'm out.
    • Posted

      Thank you for your comments. 53 years old and my doctor thinks I might have this. It's a little overwhelming at this point but the pain and the vomiting tells me I need to make some serious changes. The worst right now is I wake up about every 6 to 10 minutes at night time with acidic foam in my mouth have to spit out and occasionally wake up covered in vomit

  • Posted

    I like XS energy drinks,

    They use be Vitamins as their major source of energy,

    They have zero sugar, zero carb, and caffeine levels of a cup of coffee....

  • Posted

    Yes Rice is the worst thing ever...I ate it only 2 times since I had this case, and I had to vomit to be able to breath!

    Bread is so bad also, crackers are okay, salads are great, corn flakes is well swallowed too.

    I avoid meat/chicken/fish chunks...i need saucy stuff....

  • Posted

    i had achalasia for 4 years before i had a heller myotomy, i can eat anything now, i had a brilliant surgeon and couldnt thank him enough. before the op i used liquid b vitamins, liquid vitamin c and any other vitamins i could manage. i found icecream helped, not that i wanted to eat icecream but it was one of the few things that went down, also quavers. apparently there is a link between b vitamins and achalasia. worth a try. if anyone is wondering about the op it was fabulous, a bit painful after but worth it, i would love to help anyone in any way i can.
    • Posted


      How long did it take the sympoms to totally dissapear?? 

    • Posted

      It got easier after Hellers and after two ops I very rarely get it at all.
    • Posted

      hi   ,   i still have trouble once or twice a week,    if i eat too fast it gets stuck  ,   the eosophagus will never get better,   no contractions so as long as i slow down and have liquid with meals im ok,   a million times better,
    • Posted

      well instantly after the op........I had a few years peace where I could eat a lot of stuck about 1 time a week..........then I have a small dilation and that helped.......I will always have trouble but I would defo recommend op to anybody.

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