December 21, 2011

Symptoms of Hiatal Hernia; Hiatal Hernia Symptoms and Treatment Options

Whenever an internal body part gets displaced from its normal position and moves into a foreign area — that is, somewhere it does not belong — a hernia occurs. A hiatal hernia describes a condition in the stomach and part of the esophagus pushes through the hiatus, a small opening in the diaphragm.

The diaphragm is a dome-shaped wall of muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity. The esophagus, also known as the food pipe, normally passes through the hiatus and connects to the stomach. Because the stomach can sometimes bulge through this opening, there exists the potential for a hiatal hernia.

Diaphragm Hiatal Hernia

Small hiatal hernias are typically painless, and they cause no major health problems. In fact, many people do not realize they have a hiatal hernia, until their doctor discovers the during a medical examination for something else.

Larger hiatal hernias are usually uncomfortable and problematic. They allow partially-digested food and stomach acid to back up into the esophagus, creating acid reflux and heartburn. The heartburn caused by hiatal hernias can become severe enough to cause upper abdominal pain or chest pain, which is often mistaken for heart attack pain. A proper medical diagnosis is extremely important.

What Causes Hiatal Hernia?

Hiatal hernias result from weak muscle tissue that allows the stomach to bulge through the diaphragm and into the chest. The exact cause is uncertain. Increased and prolonged abdominal pressure — caused by obesity or overweight, pregnancy, coughing, vomiting, stressful bowel movements, or heavy lifting — may contribute to the development of hernias.

Injuries to the area can also cause hiatal hernia. And some people are simply born with a large hiatal opening. Women are more likely than men to experience hiatal hernias, and the condition is more common in overweight individuals and people who have seen at least 50 years of age.

Two Types Of Hiatal Hernia

While medical experts cannot say what causes hiatal hernia, they have identified two main types: sliding hernia and para-esophageal hernia. The first type occurs in the chest, and the latter comes near the esophagus.

A sliding hernia is the more common type of hiatal hernia. It occurs when the stomach, along with part of the esophagus that joins the stomach, pushes into the chest cavity through the hiatus. The condition may or may not cause symptoms.

Sliding Hiatal Hernia

Para-esophageal hiatal hernia is far less common, but it is much more serious. While the stomach and esophagus remain in their normal positions, part of the stomach bulges through the hiatus and lands next to the esophagus. Many people with para-esophageal hernia never experience symptoms. But the condition is dangerous, because it may “strangle” the stomach and cut off the blood supply.

Para-esophageal Hiatal Hernia

Hiatal Hernia Symptoms

Small hiatal hernias typically produce no obvious signs or symptoms. Generally the sliding hernia type, these hernias are not associated with any significant health problems. On the other hand, large hernias are likely to produce noticeable symptoms. These include heartburn, belching, swallowing difficulties, and fatigue. The larger the hernia, the more noteworthy and problematic the symptoms become.

When large sliding hiatal hernias do produce symptoms, they are usually related to gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD. The connection stems from the fact that hernia formation interferes with the lower esophageal sphincter, the barrier muscle that prevents stomach acid from backing up into the esophagus.

People who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease are much more likely to have hiatal hernias than those who are unaffected by GERD. This suggests that hiatal hernias somehow contribute to GERD. Nevertheless, GERD can occur without a hiatal hernia, so it is evident that other factors also contribute to the disease.

Lower Esophageal Sphincter

Hiatal Hernia And GERD

Various mechanisms in the body work to prevent acid reflux, a term for the backwards flow of stomach acid into the esophagus. One mechanism involves the lower esophageal sphincter, the band of muscle where the esophagus meets the stomach.

Most of the time, this muscle remains contracted to prevent acid reflux and regurgitation. It relaxes only to allow food to move from the mouth, through the esophagus, and into the stomach. The esophageal sphincter muscle is attached to the diaphragm at the hiatal opening. The diaphragm muscle, which wraps around the sphincter, increases the pressure to further prevent reflux.

A valve-like tissue just below the sphincter is another mechanism to prevent acid reflux. Since there is only a slight connection between the esophagus and stomach, a sharp angle exists between the two. Thin tissue, formed from the walls of the stomach and esophagus, forms a valve that closes the esophageal opening when pressure occurs in the stomach.

Two important changes take place when a hiatal hernia exists. While the lower esophageal sphincter slides up toward the chest, the diaphragm remains in position. Without the muscle overlap and necessary pressure, acid reflux is likely to occur. With the stomach and part of the esophagus pulled into the chest, the sharp angle that normally exists between the two becomes less sharp. As a result, the valve-like effect is weakened. This also promotes acid reflux.

Common GERD Symptoms

Acid reflux, the regurgitation of food or liquid, is a major symptom of hiatal hernia in people with gastroesophageal reflux disease. Some may also experience swallowing problems, a sore throat, hoarseness, a dry cough, and a lumpy sensation in the throat.

Heartburn is another common symptom of hiatal hernia and GERD. The burning sensation characteristic of heartburn sometimes spreads from the chest to the throat. It usually leaves an unpleasant, sour taste in the mouth.

Upper abdominal pain and chest pain are serious GERD symptoms. Because many people confuse it with heart attack pain, it is important to undergo tests and procedures to accurately diagnose the condition.

Diagnosing Hiatal Hernia

More often than not, hiatal hernias are discovered during a test to determine the cause of heartburn, chest pain, or upper abdominal pain. Doctors may x-ray the upper digestive tract using a chalky barium liquid. Or they may use an endoscope, or flexible tube with a light and video camera, to explore inside the digestive tract.

On both an x-ray and endoscopy, a hiatal hernia appears as a “sac” between the stomach and esophagus. Often, the sac is visible only during swallows. Additional medical tests, such as ambulatory acid probes and esophageal motility tests, are used to diagnose GERD.

Hiatal Hernia Treatment

Hiatal hernias without symptoms need no treatment. However, acid reflux and persistent heartburn will probably require medical intervention through medications or surgery.

Acid reflux and heartburn symptoms have several treatment options. Over-the-counter antacids neutralize stomach acid and provide heartburn relief. Special medications called H-2-receptor blockers reduce acid production, and proton pump inhibitors block it. They also heal damaged tissue in the esophagus. If over-the-counter products are ineffective, doctors can prescribe stronger versions.

Medications will control most hiatal hernia symptoms, but sometimes a hernia requires surgery. Medical procedures are usually reserved for emergency situations, including those where prescription drugs offer no symptom relief. Hiatal hernia repairs are often combined with surgery for gastroesophageal reflux disease.

When Is Surgery Necessary?

Constriction or strangulation can cut off the blood supply. If a hiatal hernia is in danger of this happening, surgery may be needed to reduce the hernia. This is more likely to occur with para-esophageal hernias than with sliding hernias.

Hiatal hernia operations involve pulling the stomach back into the abdomen and making the diaphragm opening smaller. Surgeons usually remove the hernia sac and reconstruct the lower esophageal sphincter. This may involve an incision in the abdomen or chest wall.

Many surgeons use laparoscopic surgery to view internal organs from inside the body. This less invasive procedure requires smaller incisions, through which the laparoscope and surgical instruments are inserted. Laparoscopy enables a faster recovery, with less pain, scarring, and risk of infection.

GERD surgery, often combined with hiatal hernia repair, reinforces the lower esophageal sphincter. Surgeons may construct a barrier to prevent the backup of stomach acid. Some surgeons perform surgery to damage the nerves and create scar tissue in the esophagus. While this procedure strengthens muscles and reduces pain, it is usually performed when other surgeries are not an option.

Recovery usually takes two to three weeks, although patients must avoid hard work and heavy lifting for several months after surgery. Despite a procedure’s success, there is no guarantee that a hiatal hernia will not return in the future.

Other Popular Treatments

Lifestyle changes, home remedies, and alternative therapies are other ways to treat symptoms. Hiatal hernia sufferers can alleviate some of their problems by eating smaller meals, avoiding alcohol and cigarettes, and losing excess pounds. Avoiding trigger foods and elevating the head during sleep are two more practical solutions.

Lifestyle changes

Some alternative medicine practitioners claim to cure hiatal hernia by manipulating the stomach and pushing it back into its normal position. However, no medical evidence exists to support their claim.

Patients may turn to acupuncture, relaxation therapies, and herbal remedies to treat GERD symptoms. Studies suggest that acupuncture can help people with persistent heartburn, and relaxation techniques are known to eliminate stress and ease symptoms. Chamomile, licorice, slippery elm, and other herbal remedies are touted as effective dietary supplements.

A Final Word On Hiatal Hernia

When is it time to call the doctor for hiatal hernia problems? Severe abdominal pain or chest pain are two reasons to seek medical attention. Nausea, vomiting, an inability to pass gas, and difficulty with bowel movements are additional indicators. They are signs of possible strangulation or obstruction — an emergency situation that requires immediate medical attention.

For less serious hiatal hernia problems, over-the-counter or prescription medications can usually control the symptoms. No alternative therapy can cure hiatal hernia, and none can reverse the damage already caused to the esophagus. But some people may benefit from holistic treatments that are combined with conventional medicine. To ensure safety and prevent further medical problems, patients should talk to their doctors about complementary therapies before seeking alternative solutions. For more information on treatment for hiatal hernia symptoms be sure to visit Reflux Remedy today.

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November 4, 2011

Acid Reflux Ulcer

Acid reflux occurs when acid from the stomach rises up through the esophagus. This can happen either because the stomach is too full, or because the sphincter, a part of the body that separates the stomach region from the esophagus, is not properly keeping the acid from the stomach from coming up. Some people believe that acid reflux is caused by too much acid in the stomach, but that factor is irrelevant to the problem of avid reflux. Persistent heartburn and acid regurgitation are some of the most common symptoms of acid reflux disease. Acid reflux can also cause pain in the chest and throat and make sufferers feel as if they have food caught in the throat. Medication may be able to help, as well as modifications in diet and exercise.

For sufferers of acid reflux, it is important to avoid overeating, and to avoid eating late at night so that food has a chance to digest. Avoiding spicy, fatty, or acidic foods can also help prevent episodes of acid reflux. Alcohol can also cause or exacerbate acid reflux disease. A long-term consequence of acid reflux can be painful esophageal sores. Many people use antacids or baking soda to treat acid reflux, but it is important not to rely on these treatments for a long-term solution. Finding a solution is extremely important to avoid long-term consequences of acid reflux, damage to the tissues or nerves in the esophagus and mouth, as well as erosion of the teeth. Therefore, treating the problem correctly is important before painful conditions develop.

Ulcers caused by acid reflux are not to be confused with the most commonly known types of ulcers, which occur in the stomach. Stomach ulcers are typically caused by a bacterium in the stomach. These types of ulcers are not the same ones that are caused by acid reflux, which most typically occur in the esophagus rather than the stomach. Medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen can cause ulcers, so it’s best to avoid these if you are prone to ulcers. The causes of ulcers differ from the causes of acid reflux, but similar measures of a healthy lifestyle can help prevent and treat them both. Eating sometimes may alleviate the pain caused by an ulcer. Whole grains and fruits or vegetables that are high in fiber but low in acid content are good foods to eat if you believe you may have an ulcer.

It is important to see a doctor to get a proper diagnosis, whether you suffer from acid reflux, or if you believe you may have an ulcer. Acid reflux affects the chest and throat areas, while an ulcer causes pain in the stomach, although acid reflux can also cause a certain type of ulcer in the mouth and throat when the acid wears away at tissue linings over time.

Getting help for acid reflux is extremely important, before further problems develop and before the condition becomes extremely painful. For relief in treating acid reflux, visit Reflux Remedy at today.

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November 1, 2011

Medication for GERD

GERD is gastro esophageal reflux disease, a digestive problem that is chronic and is triggered by stomach acids or bile backing up into the esophagus, or food pipe. This acid backing up into the esophagus will irritate the esophagus lining and cause heartburn and acid reflux symptoms. This condition is considered chronic when it occurs more than two times a week and is called GERD.

When a person swallows food the muscles surrounding the bottom of the esophagus will relax so that food can flow into the stomach naturally. Then these muscles will close after the food has entered the stomach. If these muscles are weak the acids in the stomach can back-up into the esophagus. This is what causes heartburn and GERD. When these acids continually back-up the esophagus can become inflamed which can result in bleeding problems. This inflammation can also make it difficult to breathe.

GERD Medications

Most people can handle normal heartburn but GERD, or constant heartburn, can disrupt a person?s daily living. Some conditions that contribute to GERD include obesity, smoking, pregnancy, asthma, diabetes, hernias, scleroderma and dry mouth. Managing these conditions should be the first step to curing GERD problems.

Medications for GERD include a combination of acid relievers and reducers, as well as medications that block the acid and heal the esophagus. These can include over-the-counter medications, prescription medications and natural remedies.

Over the Counter Medications

  • Antacids will neutralize acids in the stomach. These acid reducers will ease an inflamed esophagus, but using them constantly can result in constipation or diarrhea. Medications include Maalox, Rolaids, Tums, Mylanta or Gelusil.
  • Acid reducers include medications such as Tagamet, Pepcid AC or Zantac. These are called H-2 receptor blockers and will provide relief for a longer period of time than acid neutralizers. However, they are not as fast-acting as the neutralizers.
  • Acid blockers will block the production of the acid which can help to reduce the acid and let the esophagus heal. They are called proton inhibitors and include medications such as Prevacid 24 HR and Prilosec OTC.

Prescription Medications

GERD can be a chronic condition requiring strong medications than over-the-counter. Prescription medications include stronger versions of some of the over-the-counter medicines such as Tagamet, Pepcid, Zantac or Prilosec. Proton pump inhibitors requiring prescriptions include Protonix, Aciphen or Dexilant.

With any over-the-counter and prescription medications there are potentials for unpleasant side-effects, so physician monitoring when taking the medications is always recommended. These medications treat symptoms of GERD, but will not cure the condition.

Natural GERD Remedies

There are several herbal products and natural foods that can relieve GERD conditions. Many people say that eating an apple before bed will prevent GERD symptoms from occurring. Vinegar and peppermint teas have been successful in treating GERD in people. Fennel tea can reduce the cramping that accompanies GERD, and meadowsweet tea is calming and helps ease inflammation and reduce acid in the stomach.

For more information about GERD prevention and cures, visit Reflux Remedy at: to find out how to get rid of GERD permanently with natural products found around the home.

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Living with Severe Heartburn

Severe heartburn, also called Acid Reflux disease, occurs when acid from your stomach regurgitates into your esophagus and essentially leaves you with a burning sensation in your throat and chest and a sour taste in your mouth. Heartburn that is severe and chronic is not only painful but it can be dangerous to your health as well. If left untreated or under-treated, severe heartburn can cause ulcers in your stomach and esophagus, a Hiatal Herrera, damage to the esophagus’ tissue and can even lead to cancer in the esophagus.

Living with severe heartburn can be overwhelming at times and can be debilitating as well. The pain and discomfort can prevent you from normal day to day activities and cause sleepless nights. When you are having an episode of severe heartburn, the pain can be very intense and can last for several hours. Antacids such as Tums or Maalox can help alleviate the immediate pain and discomfort but these medicines will not cure heartburn or help to heal the damage it causes. Many times, laying down in bed causes the stomach acid to regurgitate and triggers heartburn, especially after a large or spicy meal. Placing several pillows under your head to prop you up can help relieve some of the symptoms but will not do anything to actually heal the condition.

Adjusting your diet can help ward off severe heartburn attacks. Eating several smaller meals each day instead of three large meals will help to ward off heartburn attacks. Your body can more easily digest smaller meals than a big, heavy meal. Cutting down on alcohol, coffee, tea and spicy foods will also help cut down on the amount of severe heartburn attacks and the severity of them. However, no matter how healthy your diet, or how strict you are at cutting out these trigger foods, you will not be able to heal the damage that is done to your stomach and esophagus.

Adjusting your lifestyle can also help reduce the amount of heartburn attacks you suffer as well as the severity of those attacks. Moderate exercise, especially focusing on your core muscles, will build strong healthy tissue and muscles in your stomach and surrounding area. A stronger core will likely reduce the frequency of your heartburn. Also, if you are a smoker, quit. There have been numerous studies done on the adverse affects of smoking and heartburn is included. Smoking has a direct affect on your stomach regurgitating partially digested food back into the esophagus, causing severe heartburn and further damage to your body. Again, adjusting your lifestyle will not cure your heartburn but may help in reliving your symptoms temporarily.

There is some good news for heartburn suffers. The good news is, you do not have to live with severe heartburn for the rest of your life. In fact, you can naturally manage your heartburn symptoms with one very simple food. Beyond that, you can actually cure your heartburn for good without expensive drugs. Visit Reflux Remedy at for more information on relieving heartburn today.

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