A device that helps to strengthen the oesophagus and diaphragm has been recognised by the NHS healthcare watchdog for relieving symptoms related to hiatus hernia.
A hiatus/ hiatal hernia is when your stomach bulges up into your chest through an opening in your diaphragm, the muscle that separates the two areas.
The condition is associated with making gastro-oesophageal reflux – when the contents of the stomach leak back into the oesophagus – more likely.
Called IQoro, the Swedish-developed product is described as a neuromuscular training device that naturally strengthens weakened internal muscles.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued a Medtech Innovation Briefing (MIB) on IQoro. MIBs are designed to support NHS and social care commissioners and staff who are considering using new medical devices and other medical or diagnostic technologies.
The MIB says the IQoro oral device aims to relieve the symptoms of a hiatus/ hiatal hernia after three to six months of use, without needing surgery or long courses of proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medication.
However, it does not comment on whether the IQoro is also successful for treating reflux specifically, which can exist without a hiatal hernia.
How does the IQoro work?
The acrylic device sits between closed teeth and lips and has a handle for pulling outwards with the hand.
To exercise, you press lips together and pull forward strongly on the device for five to 10 seconds, repeating the exercise three times with three seconds of rest between repetitions.
According to the company behind IQoro, the device stimulates the sensory nerves in the mouth and by doing this reaches the brain’s control system for the swallowing process.
It uses the body’s natural nerve pathways to activate the muscles from the face, oral cavity, pharynx, oesophagus and down to the diaphragm where the hernia is situated.
The company says that as the injured muscle in the diaphragm is strengthened, symptoms should disappear.
Its studies have shown that training with IQoro has led to ‘significant improvement of long-lasting oesophageal dysphagia (swallowing problems) and symptomatic gastroesophageal reflux in adults’.
IQoro can be bought online for £145.