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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April 29, 2011

Acid Disorder

Acid reflux disorder is a condition that can occur when you have a lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that does not operate as it should. The LES is a crucial component of the digestive system. Food that is headed to your stomach when you eat has to pass the LES to enter the stomach for digestion. The LES serves as a muscular ring at the end of the esophagus, right next to the diaphragm and stomach opening. For food morsels to get to the stomach, the LES has to open. Usually, the LES closes after each portion of food goes to the stomach. If your LES is weak, it does not close tightly enough to prevent stomach acids from getting into your esophagus.

Stomach acid is the last thing you want near your esophagus. Stomach acid is used to digest foods. The digestive process may begin in your mouth, but it is in the stomach that most of the work takes place. Gastric acids help to break down foods into smaller particles so that the intestines can absorb and distribute the proteins and minerals that are essential for your body. The acidity of stomach acid is very high and it can only be tolerated in the stomach. The stomach wall and lining is equipped to handle the corrosive nature of stomach acid.

Once stomach acid gains access to your esophagus there can be a problem. The esophagus doesn’t have the same protective lining that the stomach has. When acid that comes from the stomach backs up into the esophagus, this is called acid reflux disorder. Acid reflux disorder can be a challenge for many people. By being more aware of acid reflux you will be able to identify the causes, signs and treatment options.

Causes: The cause of acid reflux may stem from other conditions: being pregnant, obese, having a hiatal hernia or diabetes can contribute to acid reflux disorder. These conditions change the dynamics of the body, especially the stomach. When pressure is added to the stomach, there is a shift of the stomach. When food is digested irregularly, this can trigger acid reflux. Food is a big factor. Eating foods just before bed, lifting heavy objects or eating fatty foods can put you at risk for acid reflux disorder.

Signs: Symptoms of acid reflux disorder include heartburn, nausea, regurgitating food, chest pain, dysphagia, burping and an awful bitter taste in the mouth. Heartburn is the most common symptom of acid reflux disorder and can cause you to experience a burning feeling in your chest and throat. Signs in children may include respiratory problems that include a chronic cough, wheezing and asthma-like symptoms.

Treatment: Holistic remedies for acid reflux are highly suggested as a method of controlling symptoms. Drinking aloe juice, lots of water, and eating papaya will reduce the production of gastric acid in the stomach. Lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, eating less fattening meals and reducing alcohol intake are great techniques. Remember that effective treatment varies for each individual.

For more information on acid reflux disorder, review The Reflux Remedy Report to get all of your questions answered.

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April 22, 2011

Acid Reflux Natural Cures

Acid reflux is a very common condition with thousands of sufferers. Acid reflux occurs when the barrier between the stomach and esophagus that is meant to protect the esophagus from stomach acids malfunctions causing the acids and enzymes of the stomach to escape into the esophagus causing a burning sensation. The barrier, also known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), normally holds the top of the stomach closed acting as a protective shield. A stomach abnormality, called hiatal hernia, is what occurs when the LES moves above the diaphragm which separates the stomach from the chest. The diaphragm is there to help keep the acid in the stomach if there isn’t any proper protection in place, the esophagus and the stomach eventually suffers.

A few symptoms that you may like to know for acid reflux include, but are not limited to:

  • Heartburn: This is the most common (and often the most uncomfortable) symptom of acid reflux. Heartburn generally manifest as a burning sensation in the chest cavity. The burn in the chest has, however, been known to travel down into the abdomen and even up into the esophagus area (the throat). If the heartburn is experienced as a stabbing or abrupt sensation as opposed to its usually gradual nature it can often be mistaken as a heart attack.
  • Regurgitation: This is the expulsion of food and drinks from the mouth by way of the esophagus. This is done involuntary when it is a symptom of acid reflux. This act of regurgitating is generally preceded by a sour or bitter taste in the mouth that is shortly followed by strong salivation then the expulsion ensues.
  • Dysphagia: Dysphagia is a narrowing of the esophagus. When the esophagus narrows it can create a feeling that the throat is closing. This can make is difficult to swallow foods and drinks. Difficulty swallowing food and drinks can cause other health related issues if it isn’t urgently tended to.

Sufferers of acid reflux may grow to know that there are many natural cures for the condition. The trick is to find the cure that works best for you. Don’t be afraid of a little trial and error to discover the curing method that suits you best. A few natural cures include:

  • Drinking lots of water: Be sure to drink water before, during and after meals. Water aids in diluting the acids in your stomach which in turn minimizes reflux symptoms.
  • Try eating smaller meals more often: Eating smaller meals allows for your stomach to breakdown and process each meal without being forced to overwork to break down large meal consumption.
  • Try drinking aloe vera juice: Amongst several other healing properties, aloe also has the ability to the acids in your stomach which will significantly reduce the risk of acids escaping the stomach making way into the esophagus.
  • Keep a food log and find the foods that are right for you: Trigger foods vary from person to person. Be sure to find the foods that cause less acid reflux irritation.

Follow these natural cures to see if you the results are satisfying. If you’d like more natural cures please feel free to visit refluxremedy.com.

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April 11, 2011

Stomach Acid Reflux

Stomach acid reflux is a pain, plain and simple. Yes, there are worse things that can happen but there is ultimately little that offers greater distaste than having a negative reaction from your body simply because you eat or drink. It seems unfair, to say the very least. You have to eat to live. That you learn in Life 101. Food is essential. So, how is it that something so essential can send the body into such a burning rage that it turns you off from eating altogether? It just doesn’t make any sense. It appears that you’ve stumbled upon a situation where winning is impossible. You have acid reflux.

Stomach acid reflux disease is a condition that arises when the enzymes and acids of the stomach become hyperactivity, leave the stomach and make their way into the esophagus. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a round muscular valve that is located in the lower portion of the esophagus, upper portion of the stomach. The main purpose of this valve is to allow food and drink access from the esophagus to the stomach while protecting the esophagus. The valve does this by opening to allow food and drink to pass through to the stomach then closing immediately after so that the acids which grow active when food hits the stomach don’t escape to the esophagus.

Often time there is a stomach abnormality that is known as a hiatal hernia. This abnormality occurs when the LES and the upper part of the stomach find its way above the diaphragm which is suppose to separate the stomach from the chest. The diaphragm usually does an excellent job at keeping stomach acids in the stomach but if there is irritation the diaphragm neglects to properly do its job resulting in stomach acid reflux.

There are triggers that can cause the irritation that would facilitate stomach acid reflux. Avoiding these triggers could mean eliminating acid reflux and enjoying eating all over again. Here are a few things that could possibly be triggering your acid reflux:

  • If you are eating larger meals or you are lying down right after you eat, this could certainly be a trigger. Try eating smaller meals several times a day. Smaller meals are easier on the digestive system. The energy it takes for your acids to break down smaller meals is far less than it would take to break down meals that are larger. Also, try eating 2 hours before bedtime.
  • If you are one that loves a good carbonated drink or an alcoholic beverage, you may want to consider switching up and trying water. Water is great as it aids in the digestive process and soothes the esophagus. Water has also been known to stabilize stomach acids.
  • Eliminate citrus, garlic and spicy foods from your diet. There are ways to enjoy flavorful foods that aren’t a strain on your digestive system. Opt for alternatives. Try hearty fruits, vegetables and salads. Not only will your acid reflux be at ease, your overall health will benefit.

You don’t have to suffer from stomach acid reflux forever. Try altering your lifestyle–the benefits will be well worth it.

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