LIVING WITH HIATUS HERNIA
A hiatus hernia can often present different symptoms in patients. While some may experience reflux and heartburn on a regular basis, others may only feel slight discomfort when doing strenuous activities.
While the only long-term solution to hiatus hernia is surgery, there are things you can do which will help manage your condition and minimise your discomfort.
Avoid heavy lifting
Avoiding heavy lifting really does make a difference if you have been diagnosed with a hiatus hernia. If you cannot avoid doing this completely, use a cart or trolley to move heavy objects, or ask someone to help move it for you. If you are a keen gym goer, be mindful of your workout routine if it incorporates heavy lifting, and try to avoid exercises such as squats and crunches which place excessive stress on the stomach muscles.
Stress can impact the way in which our body reacts to reflux symptoms; if you are suffering from a hiatus hernia it can help to regularly practice relaxation techniques. Sitting calmly and engaging in deep breathing exercises or meditation can often help your body relax. If you are suffering from reflux, try finding a quiet place you can sit comfortably and practice these until your symptoms pass.
Take a fibre supplement
Chronic constipation and straining can often exacerbate hernia symptoms and cause discomfort. If this is something you suffer from, it can be useful to take a daily fibre supplement to improve regularity and ease hardened stools. Mineral oil and psyllium husks are supplements which work well. You can also add more fiber to your diet by eating dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and cavolo nero.
Elevate the head of your bed
Using additional pillows or lifting the head of your bed by 4-8 inches is very useful if you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or are overweight. When the stomach is in an ascending position it significantly reduces the risk of gastric backflow related to hiatal hernias and can help to prevent nighttime coughing from reflux.
Loosen your belt and replace tight clothing
Any item of clothing which constricts the abdomen can trigger symptoms, avoid cinched waistlines, tight belts, or anything that places direct stress on your stomach.
Give up smoking
Smoking can affect gastric motility and the way in which food moves through your esophagus. It can make your LES (lower esophageal sphincter) less responsive and in turn make swallowing more difficult. These effects can be long-lasting, and can become permanent in heavy smokers, often turning a small hernia into a much larger source of discomfort.
At present the only way to completely be rid of a hiatus hernia is through surgery.
We are now offering this service at the Birmingham Hernia Clinic and are happy to see patients for consulations and advice regarding their hernia.