If you suffer from a hiatal hernia, you know it’s far from a pleasant feeling. And you probably know very well what it’s like to have heartburn and acid reflux after almost every meal, which results in a terrible burn in your chest.
Here’s how you can alleviate hiatal hernia symptoms and get rid of discomfort.
What is a Hiatal Hernia?
Hiatal hernia, aka hiatus hernia, occurs when a part of a stomach pushes into the chest through an opening called hiatus, an enlarged hole at the back of the diaphragm. The hiatus is a part of your digestive system. It connects your stomach to the esophagus, also known as a “food pipe.”
Types of Hiatal Hernias
There are four known types of hiatal hernias, Type I being the most common one. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Type I - Sliding Hiatal Hernia
This type of hernia appears 95 percent times of all hiatal hernias. It occurs when the stomach protrudes into the opening leading to the chest through the hiatus and results in a sliding hiatus hernia.
Type II - Paraesophageal Hiatal Hernia
This type of hiatal hernia develops next to the esophagus and occurs in the rest 5 percent of all hiatal hernias. Usually, it’s a more dangerous type of hiatal hernia as it can cause reduced blood flow to the stomach and lead to tissue damage and cell death.
Type III Hiatal Hernia
This type is a mixture of both Type I and Type II hiatal hernias as it combines both defects.
Type IV Hiatal Hernia
This type of hiatal hernia occurs due to the herniation of other abdominal organs such as the pancreas, colon, etc.
Hiatal Hernia Symptoms
Although having a hiatal hernia sounds like a terrible experience, many people don’t notice any symptoms or have no idea they have it all. However, if you develop symptoms, here are some of the most common ones:
- Chest pain
- Bad breath
- Dry mouth
- Trouble swallowing
- Bitter taste in your mouth
- Upset stomach
- Shortness of breath
- Acid reflux
If you have a hiatal hernia, and experience some of the following severe symptoms, get medical attention straight away:
- Vomiting with blood
- Severe pain in your chest or belly
- Sudden weight loss
- Hard-to-stop hiccups
- Prolonged hoarseness
- Excessive flatulence
And if you’re not sure whether your symptoms are severe or related to the hiatal hernia, it’s always worth checking with your doctor to be safe and get proper guidelines on what you should do next.
Causes of a Hiatal Hernia
Hiatal hernias are most likely to occur when muscles surrounding the hiatus opening become weak and stop functioning properly. Here are a few reasons why it can happen.
- Obesity and extra weight
- Poor diet
- Genetics (being born with a larger hiatal opening)
- Injuries to the diaphragm or abdomen areas
- Chronic coughing
- Lifting heavy objects
- A pregnancy that can put pressure on digestive organs
- Surgery of the abdomen
Top 5 Natural Remedies for a Hiatal Hernia
Here’s how you can fix a hiatal hernia naturally without surgery.
“Natural methods of fixing a hiatus hernia include weight loss (every kilogram of excess body weight increases your risk of hiatus hernia) and avoidance of excessive straining. The dietary modification will not fix the hiatus hernia but can reduce the reflux symptoms that are usually associated with it. Try eating smaller, more frequent meals, and avoid eating for 3 hours before bedtime. Avoid any trigger foods for your reflux - these can vary but commonly include things such as coffee, chocolate, alcohol, peppermint, spicy and fatty foods.”
Dr Santosh Sanagapalli, MD, Consultant Gastroenterologist & Director of Oesophageal Disorders Institute at St Vincent's Hospital
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Extra weight can put additional pressure on the valves and sphincter to release stomach acid. Try changing your lifestyle, eat healthily, avoid processed foods, and be active to stay within your healthy weight.
2. Don’t Stress Too Much
Stress is bad for everyone, and it can bring tons of side effects. For some people, stress leads to problems with the digestive system, affects gut health, and increases inflammation levels. Try avoiding stressful situations as much as possible, and always keep a cool head.
3. Follow a Healthy Diet
If you’ve been diagnosed with a hiatal hernia, try avoiding the foods that can cause acid reflux or make it even worse:
- Fatty foods
- Spicy foods
- Carbonated or energy drinks
- Citrusy or acidic foods like oranges
- Artificial sweeteners
- Processed foods
- Refined vegetable oil
Instead, try including more of the following foods into your daily diet:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Olive or coconut oil
- Bone broth
- Green vegetables
- Chicken and fish
- Probiotics like yogurt or kefir
- Non-citrus fruits
- Nuts and seeds
- Decaffeinated drinks
4. Don’t Smoke
Smoking contributes to higher inflammation levels and slows down muscle reflexes that control the release of digestive contents. It also might increase the production of stomach acid. So, if you suffer from acid reflux, quitting smoking might help you alleviate its symptoms.
5. Alter Your Habits
Avoid going to bed or exercising just right after eating. It means you should try staying upright and relaxed for 3-4 hours after your meal. Or you can also try changing your sleeping position by sleeping on a slight angle, with your head being 6-8 inches above the bed.
A hiatal hernia occurs when a part of your stomach pushes through the hiatal opening in the chest, causing such symptoms as acid reflux and heartburn, or GERD. Usually, excessive weight, age, and pregnancy are the most common causes of hiatal hernias.
However, if you experience any of the hiatal hernia symptoms, it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor. And if you experience acid reflux and heartburn often, making changes to your lifestyle and eating healthier might help you alleviate those symptoms.
At Lauftex, we’re focused on bringing effective medical products to the market so that you can gain the peace of mind you need to live your life on your own terms. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about our products and expertise.