The Solution For All Hiatal Hernia, Reflux, Stomach And Gastric Problems!

Great news for hiatal hernia sufferers! You can do a huge amount to lessen the symptoms with simple, natural home remedies!

Sure, medical advice can be important, but so can empowering yourself by taking control of the symptoms of your hiatal hernia. That’s why I’d like to introduce you to an exciting and potentially life-changing report produced by Barton Publishing’s medical experts. They have thoroughly researched a lot of natural home remedies that work with the body in a gentle, natural way to give you total relief from the symptoms of hiatal hernia – easily, simply, quickly, and cheaply.

By using Barton Publishing’s tips, tricks, and techniques to reduce or even eliminate painful or uncomfortable symptoms, you can completely eliminate all the challenging symptoms that come with your hiatal hernia, such as acid reflux, GERD, nausea, regurgitation, discomfort, and so on, and resume a totally normal life. Discover how these powerful home remedies can help you overcome chronic digestive problems and give you relief from pain NOW! Simply click on the link at the top of the right hand column of this page for a video on this vital information about hiatal hernia and acid reflux.

Hiatus Hernia Symptoms

What exactly is a hiatal hernia (also known as a hiatus hernia)?

The wall of the diaphragm is made of muscle and separates your chest cavity from your abdomen. The esophagus – the tube down which you swallow food and liquids – enters your stomach through a hole in the diaphragm called the hiatus. As you might expect, a hiatal hernia occurs when the muscles which surround this hole lose their normal strength, permitting the upper part of your stomach to move up through the diaphragm and enter the chest cavity. Often it’s not clear why this happens, but part of the reason may be pressure on your stomach; this is thought to contribute to the appearance of such a hernia.

In fact, there are several possible causes, including: injury to the area natural weakness of the msucles in the area having an unusually large hiatus pressure and strain on the muscles of the area caused by persistent coughing, vomiting, straining on the toilet, or lifting heavy objects.

Most small hiatal hernias don’t show any signs or symptoms. Large hiatal hernias can cause heartburn, belching, nausea, acid reflux, and chest pain. Note that hiatal hernia is most common in people over 50 who are overweight. Another risk factor is being a smoker.

Do I need to see a doctor?

Obviously you should see a doctor if you have persistent worrying symptoms. Start with your family doctor or general practitioner. And if he diagnoses a hatus hernia, but it doesn’t respond to treatment, ask to see a gastroenterologist. Whenever you see a doctor, be prepared: make a note of symptoms you’re experiencing, whether or not you think they are hiatal hernia related. Also, make a note of key events or changes in your life that may be related to your symptoms. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and make sure you understand what is being said.

If you have a hiatal hernia, some basic questions are: What might have caused this hiatal hernia? Will I need treatment? Do I need more tests to confirm the diagnosis? What treatment is available? What are the benefits and risks of each option? What else do I need to do? (e.g. lifestyle changes).

A hiatal hernia may be found during some other procedure, but is usually discovered when a doctor investigates the cause of heartburn, acid reflux, and chest or upper abdominal pain.

Diagnostic methods include various tests to confirm the presence of a hiatal hernia X-rays of the digestive tract.

1) Patients usually have a barium X-ray - which means you drink a liquid containing barium, a compound that does not transmit X rays. It coats your esophagus, and gives a silhouette of your esophagus and stomach on an X ray pictures, which will show if you have a hiatus hernia.

2) An endoscopy exam involves your doctor passing a thin tube equipped with a light and telescopic camera into your esophagus and stomach to check for inflammation – he or she can literally see the hernia if one is present.

Hiatal Hernia

Hiatus Hernia Symptoms

The term hiatal hernia (also known as hiatus hernia) refers to a condition where the upper portion of the stomach protrudes into the chest through an opening or “hiatus” in the diaphragm. This opening allows the esophagus to pass from the chest cavity into the stomach.

This opening serves as a passage for the esophagus to pass through the diaphragm into the stomach, but occasionally it opens wide enough to permit part of the stomach to pass upwards into the chest cavity  This happens because of weakening of the muscles of the diaphragm and subsequent enlargement of the opening. This is called “herniation”. This upward movement can cause discomfort and is associated with acid reflux. This kind of hernia is known as a “sliding” hiatal hernia – these account for 95% of hiatal hernias.

The second kind – which is much less common – is called paraesophageal hiatal hernia, and is caused by  the stomach herniating through the esophageal hiatus and lying beside the esophagus without movement of the gastroesophageal junction. This is regarded as the more serious type and the acid reflux with which it is associated can lead to a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus - a precursor of cancer. Occasionally, part of the stomach may become “strangulated” above the diaphragm, and this condition needs urgent medical attention.

All in all, hiatal hernias are comparatively common. Up to 60% of 60 year old men and women have some degree of hiatal hernia.

To recap: the sliding hiatal hernia develops because the gastroesophageal junction and perhaps part of the stomach moves up through the esophageal hiatus from time to time, for example during times of greatly increased pressure in the abdomen, as may occur when coughing, straining for a bowel movement, lifting heavy weights, and so on. When the excessive pressure reduces, the stomach moves back down to its correct location. By contrast, the fixed type of hiatal hernia (or paraesophageal hiatal hernia) is where a portion of the stomach remains stuck in the chest cavity.

Causes of Hiatal Hernia

Suspected causes include obesity, poor posture (such as slouching), frequent coughing, straining during bowel movements, bending over or heavy lifting, and a congenital predisposition. Smoking, too, may be a factor. It’s also hard to avoid the conclusion that age itself may be a factor. You can also read more here.

Hiatus Hernia Signs and Symptoms

Often, a hiatus hernia causes no symptoms. When symptoms are present, they may include chest pain or a feeling of pressure, heartburn, trouble swallowing, coughing, belching, hiccups, and pain. Chest or upper abdominal pain can occur when the stomach becomes trapped over and above the diaphragm, protruding through the narrow esophageal opening or hiatus.

Other problems occur rather rarely. For example, a fixed or paraesophageal hernia may cause the blood supply to the trapped part of the stomach to become cut off, which can cause extreme pain and illness. This ”strangulated hernia” is a medical emergency.

Symptoms of hiatus hernia also cause discomfort when they occur with gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly called GERD. This is characterized by stomach acids and digestive enzymes moving into the esophagus through the unusually weak sphincter muscle – normally, of course, this acts as a one-way valve between the esophagus and stomach. Hiatal hernia is often associated with the weakening of this sphincter muscle. Read more here.

Although hiatus hernia or GERD can cause chest pain which resembles angina (a collective word for heart pain) and even radiate to the arm or neck, it’s wise to see a doctor to eliminate the possibility of coronary artery disease or heart attack.

And if you experience any of the following hiatal hernia symptoms you should seek medical attention.

      • When the symptoms are new, won’t go away, or severe
      • When it is not clear what the problem may be
      • When you have chest pressure or pain, especially if you have known heart disease, or  diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, you are over 55 years of age, or there is a family history of heart attacks or angina at an early age
      • If you are vomiting blood
      • If you have dark, bloody bowel movements
      • You experience palpitations or feel faint
      • You are short of breath
      • You cannot swallow solid food or liquids easily

Hiatus Hernia – What Do The Symptoms Mean?

If you’re experiencing this issue you’ll probably know just how uncomfortable it can be. However, your first problem might be diagnosing the fact that you actually have a hiatal hernia. It’s actually been called the “great mimic” because there are so many other physical conditions that it can resemble, for example: palpitations due to irritation of the vagus nerve, shortness of breath caused by the hiatal hernia’s impact on the diaphragm, and acid reflux because of the weakness in the stomach muscles.

In most cases a person with a hiatal hernia won’t actually experience too much discomfort, and treatment – beyond acid blockers and proton pump inhibitors if acid reflux is present – will probably not be required. These hernias only cause discomfort and esophageal stricture when they are large, in which case surgery may be recommended (because of the chronic reflux associated with severe cases of hiatus hernia; as already mentioned, the acid can injure the esophagus).

Follow this link to see a laparoscopic repair of a paresophageal hernia.

There are many home remedies for hiatal hernia that you can use to help deal with the symptoms of hiatal hernia; keep an eye on this blog for the latest posts about how you can deal with this problem.

The Mechanism Of Hiatal Hernia

Hiatus Hernia Treatment

There is a lot you can do at home. Lifestyle changes can go along way to reduce symptoms of hiatus hernia (also known as hiatal hernia). Start by reducing or eliminating heavy lifting, straining, and bending over.  Develop an improved posture; don’t slouch.  Take more exercise, and lose weight. You can also improve matters by sleeping on an incline, with the head of your bed raised 6 inches on blocks. 

Another great tip is to keep upright after a meal rather than sitting or reclining. And you should avoid the following: caffeine, chocolate, fried foods, fatty foods, stimulants like peppermint and alcohol, and meals within 3 hours of bedtime.

Also, take smaller meals more frequently – avoid large meals.

Over the counter remedies can be helpful. Therapy at home may include antacids such as Mylanta, Maalox, Gaviscon, or the simpler “Tums” for acute symptoms: these will give short term relief. Longer-lasting acid inhibitors such as Zantac, Tagamet, and Pepcid can also be helpful in preventing symptoms on a more long-term basis.

Medical Treatment

Medical treatment for the symptoms of hiatal hernia includes acid inhibitors such as Prevacid, Prilosec, and Aciphex (all available on prescription only).  Surgical treatments are usually reserved for strangulated hiatal hernia (a chronic condition where the blood supply to the herniated part of the stomach is cut off).

And the good news? There are several surgical techniques available to fix hiatal hernia if the proton pump inhibitors do not work for you. Obviously the advice of a doctor is essential here.

To summarise, then: if treated appropriately, and if you make the correct lifestyle changes, the effects of a hiatal hernia can be reduced to a comfortable level. But if left untreated, complications are possible: if the hiatus hernia is linked to GERD, complications can include serious conditions such as bleeding, perforation of the esophagus, and even esophageal cancer, which is a serious type of cancer.

Footnote: GERD – gastroesophageal reflux disease - means a condition where the stomach contents leak upwards from the stomach into the esophagus (in case you don’t know what this is, it’s the tube from the mouth to the stomach). This can irritate and inflame the esophagus, thereby causing heartburn and other symptoms.

Exams and Tests For The Symptoms Of Hiatal Hernia

The first tests will rule out more serious conditions such as heart disease. Together with your medical history, this will determine any circumstances that may be causing your symptoms: obviously it’s important that you tell your medical adviser anything which may be relevant. For example - anything that lessens or worsens the symptoms of hiatal hernia.
An initial examination will focus on the digestive system, the lungs, and the heart. It may also be wise to have a rectal exam and stool test for blood (this establishes if there is bleeding in the digestive tract). The tests conducted as part of this process may include an ECG to look for heart disease, tests for pneumonia, collapsed lung or other chest problems, blood tests for anemia or any infection, and tests for injury to the heart, pancreas, or liver. Possible follow-up tests include a barium X-ray, also known as a barium swallow. (You drink barium fluid, X-rays are taken, and the structure of the gut and stomach shows up on the X ray plate.) A gastroenterologist may do an endoscopy. This is a process where a long fiber-optic tube is passed into the stomach. The doctor can see if there is an ulcer, tumor, or other tissue damage.

What are the likely symptoms of hiatal hernia?

The large majority of hiatal hernias are called “sliding” hernias, and are not linked to any symptoms. However, the larger the hiatal hernia, the more probable there will be some symptoms. And if a sliding hiatal hernia does indeed produce symptoms, they will almost invariably be the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and the complications which can arise from that.

This happens when the hernia reduces the efficiency of the lower esophageal sphincter, a valve which stops stomach acid refluxing into the esophagus. Men and women with GERD stand a much higher chance of having a hiatal hernia than people not affected by GERD. So the link between hiatal hernias and GERD is clear, but what we don’t know is whether a hiatal hernia on its own can produce GERD.

The fact is, GERD can occur when there is no hiatal hernia, so clearly some factors other than the presence of a hiatal hernia can cause GERD.  Symptoms of uncomplicated GERD include: heartburn, regurgitation, nausea, belching and vomiting.

How does a hiatal hernia cause GERD?

In a healthy stomach, several mechanisms stop stomach acid flowing backwards (refluxing) into the esophagus. One involves a ridged band of esophageal muscle located where the esophagus enters the stomach – it is known as the lower esophageal sphincter. This is actually contracted most of the time so that acid is stopped from refluxing or regurgitating, and it relaxes only when food or liquid is swallowed. As it relaxes, it allows food to pass down through the lower esophageal sphincter and enter the stomach.

The sphincter should be firmly attached to the diaphragm where it passes through, and equally the muscle of the diaphragm should also be wrapped around the esophageal sphincter. This muscle adds to the pressure exerted by the contracted sphincter to assist in preventing the reflux of acid. In addition, some valve-like tissue at the junction of the esophagus and stomach, located immediately below the sphincter, assists in preventing reflux.

The esophagus has a tangential angle of entry into the stomach, so normally there will be a sharp angle between the esophagus and stomach. The thin tissue located in this angle, which is composed of both esophageal tissue and part of the stomach wall, has the effect of forming a valve that has the ability to close off the opening to the esophagus under any circumstances in which pressure in the stomach increases, for example, during strenuous exercise.

If someone has a hiatal hernia, two things happen. The first is that the sphincter moves, or slides, up into the chest at the same time as the diaphragm remains in the position it normally occupies. This means that the pressure produced by the diaphragm overlying the sphincter and the pressure produced by the sphincter do not nay longer overlap, so causing the total pressure junction of the stomach and esophagus to reduce. The second is that when the gastroesophageal junction and stomach are pulled up into the chest through the hiatal hernia with each swallow, the sharp angle at the junction of esophagus and stomach becomes less acute, and the valve-like effect is lost. Both of these anatomical changes promote reflux of acid, which may well be a symptom of hiatal hernia.

Hiatal Hernia – Lifestyle Changes & Other Home Remedies

You may find that certain lifestyle changes can help to control the symptoms of acid reflux caused by a hiatal hernia. For example:

  • Eat more than three times, taking smaller meals throughout the day and not just three large meals.
  • Make sure to avoid foods that trigger symptoms such as heartburn – for example, onions, spicy foods, citrus fruits, tomatos, and so on.
  • Cut down or give up alcohol
  • Don’t eat fatty foods in abundance
  • Sit up after eating and avoid lying down
  • Take food three hours before bedtime
  • Lose weight if you happen to be overweight or even obese
  • Stop using cigarettes
  • Prop up the head of your bed by about 6 inches
  • Reduce the stress in your daily life.

Treatment Of Hiatal Hernia Symptoms

Most people who have a hiatal hernia don’t have any symptoms, and don’t need any treatment. But if you have recurrent heartburn and acid reflux, it might be advisable to look at treatment, either medication or surgery.

Medication for heartburn & acid reflux

If you experience either heartburn or reflux, OTC (over the counter) medications such as these may be helpful: Maalox, Gelusil and Tums. These may provide short term relief. But these antacids alone cannot heal the inflammation of the esophagus caused by stomach acid. Furthermore, overuse of some antacids may cause diarrhea or constipation.

H2 receptor blockers such as Tagamet (cimetidine), Pepcid AC, Zantac and Axid AR

These stop the production of stomach acid. They provide longer relief and can be obtained on or off prescription if you require a stronger version.

Proton pump inhibitors

These stop acid production and allow damaged esophageal tissue to heal. Lansoprazole (Prevacid 24HR) and omeprazole (Prilosec OTC) are available over the counter, while stronger versions are available in prescription form.

Surgery for hiatal hernia

Sometimes a hiatal hernia may require surgery, but this is generally reserved for emergency cases such as people who aren’t helped by medications. Hiatal hernia repair surgery is often done at the same time as surgery for gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Hiatal hernia surgery can involve pulling the stomach down into the abdomen, then making the opening in the diaphragm smaller, as well as reconstructing the muscles of the weak esophageal sphincter. This may be done with a single incision in your chest wall (thoracotomy) or abdomen (laparotomy). But it can also be done with key hole surgery, a tiny camera and special surgical tools being inserted through several small incisions in your abdomen. The images from inside your body are displayed on a video monitor (laparoscopic surgery) for the surgeon to work from.