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Special rope to help patients suffering from sore throat.

Thousands of people living with a harrowing throat problem could soon avoid frequent invasive scans by swallowing a piece of string.

The new technique, pioneered by doctors at Southampton University Hospital, will be offered to patients with eosinophilic oesophagitis, a condition that affects around one in 1,000 people and causes the food tube, or oesophagus, to become severely inflamed.

This can make eating uncomfortable, cause nausea and, in severe cases, require an emergency procedure to remove the blockages.

In February, Motherwell footballer Sean Goss, 26, revealed he had the condition.

If sufferers are unable to swallow, they may have to rely on meal replacement shakes for nutrition.

The new technique, pioneered by doctors at Southampton University Hospital, will be offered to patients with eosinophilic oesophagitis, a condition that affects around one in 1,000 people and causes the food tube, or oesophagus, to become severely inflamed.

The new technique, pioneered by doctors at Southampton University Hospital, will be offered to patients with eosinophilic oesophagitis, a condition that affects around one in 1,000 people and causes the food tube, or oesophagus, to become severely inflamed.

In February, Motherwell footballer Sean Goss, 26, revealed he had the condition.

In February, Motherwell footballer Sean Goss, 26, revealed he had the condition.

The disease can be treated with medication and by restricting foods that trigger symptoms, but the only current method of control is to insert a camera down the throat every two months.

This method, known as endoscopy, can be exhausting but it is essential, as it allows doctors to see inside the esophagus and take tissue samples. If the condition progresses, scar tissue can build up, permanently narrowing the pipe and making symptoms worse.

Now a new test, developed by UK doctors, could replace cumbersome but vital camera controls.

During a 30-minute procedure, patients swallow a 0.3-mm-wide thread, which is wound into an 8-mm ball. One end is glued to the side of the cheek. They take a drink of water and the string melts in their stomachs. After half an hour it is removed. The rope is made from rayon, a man-made fiber often used in soft furnishings that is also highly absorbent. It absorbs fluid in the esophagus, so instead of looking for physical damage, it allows doctors to look for microscopic inflammatory proteins.

In eosinophilic esophagitis, infection-fighting cells called eosinophils go haywire and build up in the esophagus. The area swells, resulting in a feeling that the tube is being squeezed.

While many patients say that undergoing an endoscopy is only mildly uncomfortable, a minority find it traumatic and require sedation. It can be particularly difficult for children. Dr Efrem Eren, a consultant immunologist at Southampton University Hospital who has used the technique in 1,000 cases, said: “Because the string is soft and stretchy like food, children as young as five have no problem swallowing it.” . Also, we have these test devices in every NHS lab, so it would be easy to roll them out widely.”

The reason some people develop eosinophilic esophagitis has long baffled doctors. Many experts believe it is the result of an unusually reactive immune system, as people with immune disorders such as asthma and food allergies are more likely to develop it.

Treatment includes eliminating common trigger foods, such as wheat and dairy products. Heartburn medications called proton pump inhibitors can also be effective, as can steroids. If left untreated, the esophagus can become so narrow that patients must undergo therapeutic dilation, where a balloon is used to widen the tube so they can swallow.

Rarely, patients develop tears in the tissue that require emergency surgery to repair.

Southampton doctors are encouraging patients to take the new test at home, to avoid trips to hospital. Dr. Eren says, “Getting tested at home is an easy way to reassure them that their treatment is keeping things under control – this can help encourage them to stick to their treatment plans.”

Eli Rana, 13, from Southampton, has been monitored using the string test since he was first diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis in June 2020. His mother, Lisa, an allergy awareness campaigner, noted that he had to cut fruits and vegetables in small pieces. he pieces and drinks several glasses of water with his meals just to wash it down.

To confirm his diagnosis, Eli, who is interested in cars and photography, underwent an endoscopy and biopsy under general anesthesia. Over the next year, doctors in Southampton monitored his condition using the string test while trying to eliminate different foods from his diet. Finally, it was discovered that soy caused the accumulation of eosinophils in his esophagus.

Her mother says: ‘I can’t even understand what it would be like if you couldn’t get the thread tested. Nothing hurts and he can be back at school an hour later, it’s amazing. I want Eli to have as normal a life as possible. It would be horrible if he had to miss school on regular days due to his health.’

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