A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach pushes upward through the diaphragm. The diaphragm has a small opening called hiatus.
Treatment of Hiatal Hernia
The food tube, or esophagus, passes through the hiatus to connect to the stomach. If the stomach pushes up through the hiatus, it causes a hiatal hernia. While a small hiatal hernia doesn’t cause any problems and usually remains unnoticed, a large hiatal hernia can cause some severe issues, including heartburn.
In most cases, this condition is treated with medications and self-care measures. However, a very large hiatal hernia may require a surgery.
Causes of Hiatal Hernia
Most commonly, the cause of a hiatal hernia is unknown. However, since this condition occurs when there is a weakening of the muscle tissue, aging and prolonged pressure on the stomach are considered to be the major culprits for the development of a hiatal hernia.
Various factors can contribute to the occurrence of this condition, including injury in the abdominal area, obesity, pregnancy, as well as intense and persistent pressure caused by coughing, vomiting, lifting heavy objects, or straining during bowel movements.
Symptoms of Hiatal Hernia
The hiatal hernia usually doesn’t cause any symptoms. If you are dealing with a small hernia, you may remain unaware of your problem until you undergo a medical testing for some unrelated condition.
Large hiatal hernia, on the other hand, is characterized by the usual symptoms of GERD. These symptoms include:
- Feeling full after small meals
- Abdominal pain
- Chest pain which intensifies when you lie down or bend over
- Pain behind the breastbone
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Dysphagia (trouble swallowing)
- Vomiting blood or passing black stools
Treatment of Hiatal Hernia
The treatment of a hiatal hernia varies for each individual, depending on the symptoms, age, and overall condition of the patient.
Usually, this condition can be treated with a usage of medications. Over-the-counter heartburn medications are helpful in relieving the occasional burning sensation.
In most cases, they can be taken as needed throughout the day. Also, prescription medications for GERD can alleviate the hiatal hernia symptoms, and they can heal the esophagus lining from the hernia-related acid reflux.
Moreover, you can reduce the GERD symptoms when you have a hiatal hernia by adjusting your sleeping and eating schedule.
You should eat small meals which don’t include any foods that cause heartburn, such as greasy food, tomato, citrus fruits, chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol.
Also, a regular physical activity, such as walking or swimming, can help you to improve this condition.
However, in the case of a large hiatal hernia, there may be a requirement of a surgical procedure, especially if the dietary and lifestyle adjustments fail to manage the symptoms.