TMH Living Well: Identifying and treating GERD |

TMH Living Well: Identifying and treating GERD

Everyone has a little heartburn now and then, but imagine having it every day? Approximately 30 percent of the adult population suffers from some type of GERD. Classic symptoms are heartburn, acid indigestion, a sour taste in your mouth, difficulty swallowing and chest pain not associated with a heart condition.

GERD is a chronic condition that develops when gastric contents in the stomach reflux back into the esophagus causing typical symptoms of heartburn or acid regurgitation. Sometimes it manifests with other atypical symptoms including laryngitis, chronic cough, bronchitis, recurring pneumonia, sleep apnea, acid erosion on teeth, chest pain and abnormal heart rate or rhythm.

“GERD is usually caused by a weakness in the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Essentially, it is a one-way valve that relaxes when we eat and swallow, then clamps back up when we are done. It can stop working for various reasons,” said Dr. Jeff Womble, general surgeon with TMH.

A new solution: Stretta

The Memorial Hospital is pleased to offer a new solution for GERD that’s producing great results, called Stretta. It’s a highly effective and minimally-invasive procedure that offers an alternative to invasive surgery or implants. Stretta therapy uses radiofrequency (RF) energy to strengthen and improve the function of the LES to prevent regurgitation or reflux.

Stretta takes approximately 60 minutes to perform. Patients receive conscious sedation and an instrument is passed through the mouth, so there are no visible cuts or scars that result from the procedure. Patients typically go home one to two hours after the procedure. Most patients are able to return to work and their normal activities a few days after treatment.

“Most people with reflux symptoms are a candidate for Stretta. It can mean ending symptoms and getting off medicines,” Womble added.

Stretta is widely studied and has a patient satisfaction rating of 93 percent. Clinical studies show that 86 percent of patients are still off their daily proton pump inhibitors after four years. Most patients experience a significant improvement in GERD symptoms lasting from four to 10 years.

For more information about the procedure, visit the Stretta website:

It’s exciting to know that Stretta is available right here in Craig. If you’ve been suffering from GERD, consider a visit with a general surgeon at TMH to see if Stretta is a fit for you. Dr. Driggs and Dr. Womble can be reached at 970-826-2420.

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