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Hiatal Hernia Revealed: Causes, Symptoms, Solutions

Hiatal Hernia Revealed: Causes, Symptoms, Solutions

Hiatal hernia is a condition that occurs within the stomach where the upper part of the stomach bulges through an opening in the diaphragm. According to the National Library of Medicine, approximately 55%- 60% of individuals suffering from hiatal hernias are over 50. This medical condition doesn't always have symptoms and mainly affects women. 

This blog will provide in-depth information about hiatal hernia in Anchorage, AK, along with all available treatment and diagnosis options. 

What Is a Hiatal Hernia?

When the upper section of your stomach pushes up through your diaphragm into your chest, you have a hiatal hernia. Since the opening is known as a hiatus, this medical condition is also termed a hiatus hernia.

Hiatal hernia can be classified into two categories: 

1. Sliding Hiatal Hernia

This is the most prevalent kind of hiatal hernia. This medical condition occurs when your stomach and esophagus pass through the hiatus and move into your chest. Sliding hernias are often tiny. Sliding hiatal hernia symptoms seldom occur and may not necessitate treatment.

2. Fixed Hiatal Hernia

Also known as para esophageal or strangulated hernia, is a rare type of hiatal hernia. This type of hiatal hernia causes a part of your stomach to push through your diaphragm. The majority of fixed hiatal hernia cases are minor. However, there is a chance that blood flow to your stomach will get obstructed. If this occurs, it has the potential to inflict severe injury and is considered a medical emergency.

Who Is at the Risk of Developing Hiatal Hernia?

Hiatal hernia is a common type that can occur in both sexes and people of all ages. But this mainly occurs in women. This medical condition also has other risk factors, such as: 

  • Aging
  • Smoking
  • Obesity 

Hiatal hernia can also occur in people born with abnormally large hiatus.

See Also: An In-Depth Guide to Inguinal Hernia Surgery

What Causes a Hiatal Hernia?

Doctors are yet to find the real cause behind hiatal hernia. However, some of the known causes include: 

  • Injury or damage to the abdominal region
  • Changes in the diaphragm due to aging 
  • Increased pressure in the abdominal cavity due to chronic coughing, vomiting, or straining during bowel movement.
  • Performing heavy exercises that mainly affect the stomach region.

What are the Symptoms of a Hiatal Hernia?

Hiatal hernia symptoms rarely occur in people. But you should contact your doctors if:

  • Have a bloated stomach
  • Suffering from heartburn due to GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)
  • Trouble swallowing food 
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Feel like vomiting 
  • Shortness of breath 

When to Seek Immediate Medical Care for Hiatal Hernia?

You should seek immediate medical care if you have the following: 

  • Severe belly or chest pain 
  • Continuous vomiting 
  • An upset stomach that persists continuously 
  • Can't pass gas or poop

These symptoms can be a sign of a paraesophageal hernia which is a medical emergency.

What are the Diagnosis Options available for Hiatal Hernia?

There are various options available for the diagnosis of hiatal hernia. Your doctor can perform diagnostics techniques that may include the following: 

1. Barium swallow X-ray

In this method, a patient has to drink a specific liquid, and then an X-ray is taken to help identify abnormalities in the esophagus (such as swallowing difficulties) and stomach (such as ulcers and tumors). It also displays the size of the hiatal hernia and whether there is stomach twisting due to the hernia.

2. Esophageal Manometry

In this method, a tube is sent down the throat to measure the pressure in your esophagus as you swallow. This technique assesses the esophagus's strength and muscle coordination while swallowing. 

3. Endoscopy

An endoscopy is a process that involves seeing the inside of the upper digestive tract with an endoscope, which is a long, thin, flexible tool about 1/2 inch in diameter. A camera at the end lets you see inside your esophagus and stomach.

What are the Treatment Options Available for Hiatal Hernia?

Most of the time, Hiatal hernias don't require any treatment. However, it would help if you treat the various hiatal hernia symptoms that may occur. These symptoms can be treated with lifestyle changes and medications, while you may need surgery.

If you have acid reflux, you will be given hiatal hernia medications that include: 

  • Antacids to neutralize stomach acid
  • Proton pump inhibitors or H-2 receptor blockers prevent your stomach from producing acid.
  • Prokinetics to strengthen your esophageal sphincter. 

See Also: Understanding the Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options of Femoral Hernias

When Is Hiatal Hernia Surgery Needed?

Patients with severe, long-lasting esophageal reflux will need hiatal hernia surgery. These types of surgeries use a method known as laparoscopy. This procedure aims to cure gastroesophageal reflux by constructing a better valve mechanism at the esophageal bottom. 

Your doctor will make (5 to 10-millimeter) incisions in your stomach. A laparoscope is inserted via these incisions and delivers images to a monitor, allowing your doctor to look inside your body. These "minimally invasive" techniques include smaller incisions, lower infection risk, less pain and scarring, and quicker recovery times than standard operations.  

Hiatal Hernia Diet and Lifestyle Changes 

  • Avoid acidic foods 
  • Limit fried and fatty foods 
  • Wear loose clothes on the lower body
  • Lose weight 
  • Reduce smoking 

Choose Far North for Your Hiatal Hernia in Anchorage AK

At Far North Surgery, our highly competent, board-certified surgeons collaborate with other specialists to offer top-grade medical care to our patients. Our surgeon Dr. Madhu Prasad is expertise in performing hernia surgery with desirable outcomes. Contact us to learn more about our latest hernia treatment options. 

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