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What is a hiatal hernia and how do you treat it?

2023-08-30T14:40:33+00:00
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What is a hiatal hernia? (Photo: Shutterstock)
  • What is a hiatal hernia?
  • Learn about hiatal hernia treatments.
  • Diet and lifestyle can affect this condition.

Grupo Firme’s lead singer, Eduin Caz recently revealed his cancer diagnosis, which resulted from Barrett’s esophagus. This raised questions about what a hiatal hernia is and how it can be treated.

According to the Mayo Clinic, this is a very specific condition.

It «occurs when the upper part of your stomach bulges through the large muscle separating your abdomen and chest (diaphragm).»

The diaphragm has an opening that your esophagus passes through before connecting to the stomach.

Diagnosing a hiatal hernia

What is a hiatal hernia
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If a hiatal hernia is small it generally doesn’t cause problems.

However, a large hiatal hernia allows food and acid to back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn.

Symptoms can be alleviated through lifestyle changes and medication.

However, a very large hiatal hernia may require surgical intervention.

Symptoms and treatment

symptoms of a hiatal hernia
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The Mayo clinic describes symptoms of a hiatal hernia.

These include: heartburn, regurgitation of food or liquid into the mouth, acid reflux, difficulty swallowing and abdominal pain.

Other symptoms include feeling full shortly after eating, shortness of breath, vomiting blood or black stool.

If you have any of these symptoms on a regular basis, you should consult your doctor.

Factors and risks

hernia risk factors
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Changes in the diaphragm caused by aging can lead to a hiatal hernia, though some people are born with this condition.

Injuries to this part of your body — after trauma or some types of surgery — can also cause this condition.

Lastly, persistent and intense pressure on surrounding muscles and during bowel movements can lead to it.

If you’re over 50 and obese, you’re at greater risk, so it’s important to be very vigilant.

Treatments and management

treatment for a hernia
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Fortunately, a hiatal hernia can be treated with medications or, if necessary, with surgery.

This condition can disappear, if the hernia is very small, with lifestyle changes and the right treatment.

In other cases, it can be a chronic condition that needs long-term management.

If frequent acid reflux and heartburn occur, medication and surgery are likely required.

Diet and hiatal hernia: Key recommendations

woman with internal pain
Shutterstock

There are certain foods you should avoid with a hiatal hernia.

Sufferers should reduce their intake of spicy, acidic, very fatty or very salty foods.

Similarly, it’s recommended to avoid sauces, pickled salted fish, fatty meats, whole dairy products, nuts, processed meats and chocolate.

Lastly, avoid carbonated beverages, alcohol, coffee and tea. You should also stop eating at least two hours before laying down.

Connection between hiatal hernia and acid reflux

What is a hiatal hernia and how do you treat it?
Shutterstock

One of the causes of acid reflux is a problem with the gastric cardia.

This is the sphincter that connects to your stomach through the upper esophagus.

If you have frequent heartburn or issues with your throat, you should consult your doctor.

It’s also important to avoid constant eating, as well as avoiding alcohol, gassy foods and caffeine.

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