What Is a Hiatal Hernia?
Treatment for Hiatal Hernias
Treating a hiatal hernia can involve lifestyle changes, medication, or surgery.
Your doctor will consider a number of factors when deciding on the best course of treatment, including your general health, how large your hernia is, and how severe your symptoms are. (3)
Recommended lifestyle changes are generally aimed at reducing symptoms of GERD and may include:
- Losing weight
- Reducing meal and portion size
- Avoiding acidic foods, like tomatoes and citrus fruit
- Avoiding caffeine and alcohol
- Avoiding peppermint
- Limiting carbonated beverages
- Limiting fried and fatty foods
- Eating at least three to four hours before lying down
- Keeping your head elevated at least 6 inches when you rest or sleep
- Avoiding tight clothing around your abdomen and waist
- Quitting smoking (1)
Your doctor may also recommend the following medication to treat GERD:
Antacids:These drugs neutralize stomach acid and include brands like Mylanta, Rolaids, and Tums.
H2-receptor blockers: These drugs reduce acid production and include Pepcid (famotidine), Tagamet (cimetidine), Axid (nizatidine), and Zantac (ranitidine).
Proton pump inhibitors:These drugs more strongly block acid production and can help heal your esophagus. They include Prevacid (lansoprazole), Prilosec (omeprazole), and Nexium (esomeprazole). (2)
Emergency surgery is needed for a hiatal hernia if your stomach is being squeezed so tightly that its blood supply is cut off.
Surgery may also be needed if you have severe GERD that isn’t responding well to lifestyle measures and medication.
To surgically repair a hiatal hernia, your doctor will pull the entire stomach back down into your abdomen and make the opening in your diaphragm smaller.
Your surgeon may also repair your esophageal sphincter — the muscle that normally prevents your stomach contents from flowing back into your esophagus — if needed.
This surgery is usually done laparoscopically — involving several small incisions and using a flexible tube containing a light and camera to view the inside of your abdomen and chest.
Less often and usually only when necessary, your doctor may opt for an “open” procedure, which involves longer incisions, a longer recovery period, and a greater risk of infection, pain, and scarring.
Video: Hiatus hernia: signs, symptoms and treatment
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