What Is Hiatal Hernia: Overview, Diagnosis and Lifestyle Changes

Introduction :

Hiatal hernia is a condition that arises when part of the abdomen bulges up into the chest through the diaphragm — the muscle that separates the abdomen and chest. The diaphragm has a small opening known as hiatus through which the esophagus passes before connecting to your stomach. In this condition, the belly pushes up through the hiatus into your chest.

In the case of a small hiatal hernia, the consequences aren't severe and often go unnoticed. You may never know about it unless your doctor discovers it during a regular check-up or for another condition. However, a large hiatal hernia can lead to blockages in the esophagus, ultimately giving rise to heartburn. Home remedies or medications can usually help reduce these symptoms. In the case of extreme pain, a person might need to go through surgery.

Types of Hiatal Hernia :

A hiatal hernia can be of two types: Sliding Hiatal Hernia and Paraesophageal / Fixed Hernia.

1. Sliding Hiatal Hernia :

Sliding Hiatal hernias are more commonly found in people and occur when the stomach and esophagus move into and out of the chest through the opening called hiatus. They tend to be small and usually don't cause severe symptoms. Sliding Hiatal hernias can be treated with medications and home remedies and may not require urgent medical attention.

2. Fixed or Paraesophageal Hiatal Hernia :

This type of hernia is severe and not commonly found in people. In a fixed hiatal hernia, part of the stomach slides into the chest and stays there. The majority of cases don't come with severe consequences. However, there is a risk of blood flow to get obstructed to your stomach. In such cases, urgent medical attention is required. If not treated, fixed Hiatal hernias may cause severe damage.

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Hiatal Hernia Symptoms :

Many people with hiatal hernia may never have any symptoms unless they go a full body check-up. Others may experience the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heartburn from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Bloating
  • Burping
  • Upset stomach and vomiting
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Backflow of food/ liquid from the stomach to your mouth
  • Bad taste in your mouth

Patients are recommended to get medical care immediately if they notice any of the below-mentioned symptoms:

  • Severe pain in the chest or abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Trouble pooping
  • Upset stomach

Hiatal Hernia Causes:

The exact cause of this condition is not known, but doctors believe several issues may cause it, including:

  • Injury to the area
  • A rise in pressure to your abdomen, from frequent coughing, pregnancy, lifting heavy equipment, or straining on the toilet
  • Being born with a larger Hiatal opening
  • Changes in your diaphragm with age

Risk Factors :

Hiatal hernias are more common in women, people with obesity, and older than 50 years old.

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Hiatal Hernia Diagnosis:

Patients are needed to undergo one of the tests mentioned below to diagnose a hiatal hernia, including:

  • Barium Swallow: You may be asked to drink a liquid that becomes visible on an X-ray for your doctor to get a proper view of your abdomen and esophagus.
  • Endoscopy: Your doctor will insert a long, thin tube known as an endoscope down your throat that has a camera on end. The camera captures pictures from inside tour esophagus and abdomen, thereby helping the doctor diagnose the hiatal hernia.
  • Esophageal Manometry: In esophageal Manometry, the doctor will insert a different kind of tube down your throat to monitor the pressure in your esophagus when you swallow. Any visible changes will confirm the diagnosis.

Lifestyle Changes Need To Be The Change With Hiatal Hernia:

Several changes to your daily life that can help relieve acid reflux symptoms, including:

  • Avoid acidic foods such as soda, orange juice, and tomato sauce.
  • Lift the head to your bed about 6 inches.
  • Do not exercise or lie down at least 3 to 4 hours after having meals.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Eat smaller meals.
  • Avoid fried and fatty foods, caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, and vinegar.
  • Don't put pressure on your abdomen.

Treatments :

If you don't experience any of the symptoms mentioned earlier, you may not require treatment. However, if you experience acid reflux symptoms, report to your doctor, who may suggest medications to treat those symptoms, such as:

  • Prokinetics to make your esophageal sphincter —the muscle that prevents stomach acid from going back into your esophagus — stronger. Additionally, they enable the smooth functioning of the muscles in the esophagus and cleanse the stomach.
  • Antacids to dilute the stomach acid
  • Proton pump inhibitors or H-2 receptor blockers to prevent your stomach from making high amounts of acid

You may be required to undergo a surgical procedure if you have a fixed hiatal hernia so that your abdomen doesn't become obstructed. The surgeries required to eliminate Hiatal hernias are called laparoscopy. Your doctor will make few incisions (5 to 10 millimeters) on your stomach and insert a tool called a laparoscope through these cuts to get a clear image of your abdomen. Such procedures are minimally invasive, reducing the risk of infection, pain, scarring, and guarantees faster recovery than traditional surgeries.

Hiatal Hernia Ayurvedic Treatment :

Hiatal hernia Ayurvedic treatment by Grocare India made with the richness of natural herbs, Hernica®, Xembran®, and Acidim® are natural ayurvedic medicines that work in harmony to reduce inflammation, bloating, acid reflux, and maintain the pH levels in the body, all the while strengthening the digestive system to help provide relief from Hiatal hernia naturally.

Two tablets of Hernica® should be taken twice a day (post breakfast and dinner), two tablets of Acidim® should be taken a day thrice (post breakfast, lunch & dinner), and one tablet of Xembran® should be taken twice daily (post-dinner), respectively. All the tablets should be taken collectively with meals. The tablets should be taken for 6-8 months or as prescribed by the doctor. If taken within the prescribed dosage, Hernica®, Xembran®, and Acidim® do not cause any known side-effects.

Patients can notice visible effects within a month of the kit's usage, including reduced pain and discomfort, normal pH, smooth bowel movements, and a reduction bloating and regurgitation. Results may vary from individual to individual, based on the severity of the condition, lifestyle, dietary patterns, and age. Patients are provided with a diet chart to monitor the changes.