December 21, 2011
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
September 16, 2011
Hiatal hernia is not a condition that is well accepted by the medical community, but affects an estimated 15 percent of Americans, though the actual numbers are suspected to be much higher. Most people suffering from Hiatal hernia aren’t aware of it, and may attribute the symptoms to things that are far more innocuous. A Hiatal hernia occurs when the stomach, in whole or in part, protrudes up through the natural opening in the diaphragm called the hiatus.
Causes of Hiatal hernia are many, and easy to overlook. Lying down sooner than 3 hours after eating, smoking, drinking alcohol, consuming refined sugar, placing strain on the abdomen, using poor posture and improperly lifting heavy weight, can all contribute to the development of a Hiatal hernia.
When the stomach is capable of changing positions and moving up and down through the hiatus, this is called a sliding Hiatal hernia. With proper awareness, care and effort, this can potentially be corrected. A Hiatal hernia can take on a malignant and dangerous form, however, called a strangulated or paraesophageal Hiatal hernia. This is where the stomach becomes stuck in the hiatus and cannot move back down. In some cases, blood flow may be entirely cut off from the portion of the stomach that is stuck above the hiatus. In these cases the condition can be life threatening, and emergency surgery is an absolute must.
Both a sliding Hiatal hernia and a strangulated Hiatal hernia may present similar symptoms, but those of strangulation are much more severe. Symptoms of a strangulated Hiatal hernia usually include severe pain in the chest, nausea and dry heaving and vomiting. It is, perhaps, unsurprising that these symptoms are known as a false heart attack. Other symptoms may include difficulty swallowing, chronic, uncontrollable acid reflux and pain in the stomach. Please be aware that strangulation is a dangerous situation and warrants a trip to the emergency room immediately!
Strangulation means that the blood flow to a portion of the stomach has been cut off, and may cause death of tissues if not taken care of immediately. To repair a strangulate Hiatal hernia, a surgeon will move the stomach back down to the proper location and stitch the hiatus closed around the esophagus. Unfortunately, a great number of people experience further or worsened problems after this surgery due to internal scarring.
Obviously, the best policy for dealing with a strangulated Hiatal hernia is to avoid getting it in the first place. Avoid lying down immediately after eating. Try to keep from drinking liquids, especially cold ones, half an hour before, during and after meals. Learn the proper way to lift weight, prevent strain on the abdomen and make an effort to maintain good posture. Make certain to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetable, use lots of spices like cinnamon, turmeric and cayenne, and consider taking digestive enzymes. It is also important to avoid stress, as it tends to make the body’s muscles tight and prone to injury, and avoid straining during bowel movements.
Find out everything you need to know about strangulated Hiatal Hernia by visiting Reflux Remedy at www.refluxremedy.com today!
Filed under Hiatal Hernia Symptoms by gina
Hiatal hernia is a fairly common condition that is unpleasant at best, and miserable at worst. In some cases, they cause such severe symptoms that you may find yourself unable to even get a decent night of sleep, leaving you feeling exhausted, depressed, incapable of concentrating and unable to enjoy much of anything. For some, these problems go on for months or years. Many people who have a Hiatal hernia may not even be aware of it, and may spend masses of time and money going from one doctor to another to try to find out why they feel so awful. Many of these people may never realize that Hiatal hernia is treatable, and can be prevented from worsening.
There is evidence that Hiatal hernia may be caused, in part or in whole, by weakness of the core abdominal muscles, allowing the stomach to be forced up through the diaphragm. These muscles can be strengthened by certain types of exercise. Try lying on your back with your knees up and your feet flat on the floor. Using your shoulders and feet to support your weight, lift your buttocks and lower back off of the floor, lowering again slowly and gently. Do this about 10 times per day. Walking is also good, since it improves digestion and encourages the stomach to go back into its proper place.
Many sufferers of Hiatal hernia also suffer from chronic acid reflux, which is aggravated by certain foods such as refined sugars and flours, raw onions and peppers and cold beverages. Any liquids should be consumed no less than 30 minutes before a meal, or an hour after. Avoid carbonated drinks, as these fill the stomach with air and make the stomach more susceptible to being forced through the hiatus. Mint should be consumed with caution, as it relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing acid to back up into the esophagus.
Just as there are foods that hurt, there are also foods that help. Numerous common spices help to improve digestion such as cumin, cinnamon, ginger fennel and turmeric. These spices make an excellent after-meal tea, especially when used together. Fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in enzymes and fiber that assist proper digestion. Fresh pineapple and papaya are particularly helpful because they contain potent natural enzymes that rapidly break down protein in the stomach.
Along with changes in diet, changes to your lifestyle and behaviors can help to remedy your Hiatal hernia. When lifting, bend at the knees, keeping your back straight. If the object is very heavy, get someone to help you. May Hiatal hernias are caused by improper lifting, or lifting too heavy an object. Also, work to improve your posture. Sit up straight, keeping your feet on the floor. Make an effort to reduce your stress and anger, as they cause tension in the muscles, impair proper digestion and cause labored breathing. Finally, avoid overeating. An overly full stomach is not only a recipe for acid reflux, but it may cause worsening of a Hiatal hernia. Cure your Hiatal hernia by visiting Reflux Remedy at www.refluxremedy.com today!
Filed under Hiatal Hernia Symptoms by gina
June 9, 2011
Those suffering from Hiatal hernia know the pain and discomfort that is associated with this disorder. In many cases, seeking relief can be difficult and they may feel as though their options are limited. While surgery, prescription and over-the-counter medications may be available, many simply do not wish to deal with the undesirable side effects associated with such treatments. However, there are other forms of Hiatal hernia help that are natural and provide results.
Diet and Supplements
Changes in diet and supplementation can help ease the symptoms of this type of hernia. Many of the herbs used for such remedies can be mixed with a hot beverage such as tea or may be taken by capsule or simply mixed with plain water for consumption. Common herbs used in treatment can include black walnut and licorice root, just to name a few. For more severe cases that are accompanied by a constant burning and stinging sensation, research suggests that supplementation of calcium phosphorica can alleviate the pain. These supplements are often taken at bedtime, when symptoms may be at their worst for many sufferers.
Regulation of Digestion
Regulating digestive process can play a significant role in the body?s response to the hiatal hernia. This too involves supplementation to the diet. One key element is that of aloe vera. Although it is typically associated with soothing skin inflammation, it can also help calm gastrointestinal disorders and their associated symptoms. Rather than take capsules though, the juice is actually extracted from the leaf of the plant.
While cardio is often the first thing that comes to mind, strength training workouts are actually the most recommended for hiatal hernia help. The goal is to strengthen and tone the muscles surrounding the affected area. This can significantly decrease the symptoms and promote healing. Generally, all that is needed is as little as fifteen minutes of exercise that targets the abdomen and chest at least three times a week. However, it is recommended that the patient build-up his or her tolerance level over a matter of weeks, otherwise this may temporarily increase discomfort.
For more information regarding Hiatal hernia help visit www.refluxremedy.com today!