The opening in your diaphragm is called your hiatus, and when the hiatus isn't functioning properly, you can develop a hiatal hernia. This is characterised by the stomach protruding up through the hiatus, which allows stomach acid to flow into the oesophagus. A hiatal hernia tends to cause persistent heartburn and scar tissue can form along the oesophagus, which can make swallowing painful. Some people with this condition will become deficient in certain nutrients and unintentionally lose weight if treatment isn't sought promptly. Once you have a diagnosis, which tends to require an endoscopy, your doctor will discuss treatment approaches with you. Read on to learn about the main treatment options for hiatal hernias.
Some people report a worsening of their symptoms after eating certain foods. Common food triggers include fried foods, dairy and caffeine, but keeping a food diary will help you identify any foods that trigger your symptoms. If you notice that certain foods trigger your symptoms, ask your doctor to refer you to a dietician. They can work with you to ensure you're getting all the nutrients you require in your diet when you cut any food groups out. Changing your sleeping position may also be helpful. Try using a bed wedge to prop your upper body up a little, as it's easier for acid to flow along your oesophagus when you're lying flat.
Your doctor can prescribe a few different types of medication to try and ease your symptoms. Proton-pump inhibitors work by lessening the amount of acid produced by your stomach, while prescription-strength antacids can be used to neutralise stomach acid, and alginates can be useful for protecting the delicate tissue of your oesophagus. Work with your doctor to find the right medication and dosage to keep your symptoms under control.
When conservative treatment approaches have not successfully brought your symptoms under control, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair the hernia. The procedure used is known as Nissen fundoplication, and it involves narrowing the hiatus a little to prevent a protrusion from being possible. This surgery is usually carried out using keyhole surgical techniques, but as with any type of surgery there are risks and these should be discussed with your doctor before you schedule the procedure.
Treating a hiatal hernia can improve your quality of life and allow you to enjoy the simple pleasure of eating a meal without worrying about the repercussions. If you're ready to get your symptoms under control, make an appointment with your doctor. For more information, contact a doctor near you.Share