Almost everyone has experienced mild indigestion after overdoing it slightly at dinner. But for many people in the UK, acid is a severe and debilitating condition which gets in the way of normal life.
Now, an innovative new treatment is bringing relief to acid reflux sufferers across northwest England. Patients at The Alexandra Hospital in Cheadle have been the first to receive the new treatment. It uses radio waves in a one-off procedure, which provides long-term relief. Here’s what you need to know about this exciting new development.
What is it?
The new treatment is called Stretta. Stretta is used to treat gastro-oesophageal reflux, commonly known as acid reflux. Acid reflux is the cause of heart burn, which usually causes occasional, manageable discomfort, but in some people causes regular, severe pain. Stretta is a safe and effective alternative to current surgical and medical treatments and it’s minimally invasive.
The Alexandra Hospital offers Stretta as an outpatient procedure, which means there is no need to stay in hospital overnight. The procedure itself takes about an hour. Most people who have it can usually return to normal daily life –including activities such as working and driving – within a few days. You’ll be given a liquid diet to follow for 24 hours after the procedure, and a soft diet for two weeks. It’s a one-off treatment, delivering long-term relief from heart burn with no need for ongoing treatment aside from any regular prescribed medication.
How does it work?
Stretta uses radio waves to improve the ‘barrier’ between the stomach and the oesophagus. This improved barrier ensures that people who have had the treatment experience fewer and less severe reflux events. The Stretta system works by delivering radiofrequency energy to the muscles, strengthening and toning them. The doctor who carries out the procedure uses a simple endoscope to deliver these radio waves in a safe and targeted way. It takes around one hour and is carried out under a general anaesthetic.
Is it for me?
The Stretta treatment is designed to help people who experience frequent severe acid reflux. Reflux can be a debilitating condition, causing significant pain and getting in the way of everyday life. If you suffer from this type of severe reflux, and regular measures such changing your diet and taking medication hasn’t helped, this new treatment could be suitable for you.
Dr Simon Campbell is a Consultant Gastroenterologist at The Alexandra Hospital. He explains that: “the Stretta treatment is a safe and effective alternative to surgery or medication for many patients with severe acid reflux and can totally change their lives for the better.”
Carole Brewitt is 69 and suffered from severe reflux for many years, and medication prescribed by her GP did little to alleviate the symptoms. “I had got to the point with the reflux symptoms, where I didn’t want to go out socialising anymore, because I would feel so ill. I got terrible, painful indigestion and heartburn when I ate or drank alcohol and I would often wake up feeling sick. I went to my GP and he prescribed medication, but it didn’t really help.”
Carole underwent Stretta treatment three months ago. “My life has been completely transformed. I’m back to enjoying my life – and social life – again and I don’t have to worry about being in pain from the reflux. I feel like I’m back to being me!”