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A hiatal hernia
is a condition that causes part of your stomach to bulge through the hiatus (small opening) in your diaphragm. The part of the stomach may move up and down, or it may get trapped above the diaphragm.
Common symptoms include the following:
The most common symptom is heartburn. This usually occurs after meals and spreads to your neck, jaw, or shoulder. You may have no signs or symptoms, or you may have any of the following:
- Abdominal pain, especially in the area just above your navel
- Bitter or acid taste in your mouth
- Trouble swallowing
- Coughing or hoarseness
- Chest pain or shortness of breath that occurs after eating
- Frequent burping or hiccups
- Uncomfortable feeling of fullness after eating
Seek care immediately if:
- You have severe abdominal pain.
- You try to vomit but nothing comes out (retching).
- You have severe chest pain and sudden trouble breathing.
- Your bowel movements are black or bloody.
- Your vomit looks like coffee grounds or has blood in it.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- Your symptoms are getting worse.
- You have nausea, and you are vomiting.
- You are losing weight without trying.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Treatment for hiatal hernia
depends on the type of hiatal hernia you have and on your symptoms. You may not need any treatment. You may need any of the following:
- Medicines may be given to relieve heartburn symptoms. These medicines help to decrease or block stomach acid. You may also be given medicines that help to tighten the esophageal sphincter.
- Surgery may be done when medicines cannot control your symptoms, or other problems are present. Your healthcare provider may also suggest surgery depending on the type of hernia you have. Your healthcare provider can put your stomach back into its normal location. He may make the hiatus (hole) smaller and anchor your stomach in your abdomen. Fundoplication is a surgery that wraps the upper part of the stomach around the esophageal sphincter to strengthen it.
The following nutrition and lifestyle changes may be recommended to relieve symptoms of heartburn.
- Avoid foods that make your symptoms worse. These may include spicy foods, fruit juices, alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, and mint.
- Eat several small meals during the day. Small meals give your stomach less food to digest.
- Avoid lying down and bending forward after you eat. Do not eat meals 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. This decreases your risk for reflux.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, weight loss may help relieve your symptoms.
- Sleep with your head elevated at least 6 inches.
- Do not smoke. Smoking can increase your symptoms of heartburn.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.