Symptoms of a hiatal hernia usually only occur when the hernia becomes large enough to irritate or put pressure on nearby organs and structures. When this happens, symptoms may include:
- Acid reflux
- Difficulty swallowing
- Bitter, sour, or unpleasant taste at the back of your throat
- Abdominal bloating
- Chest or abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling full shortly after eating
- Vomiting of blood
- Bloody stool, which may cause stool to look black
How Is a Hiatal Hernia Treated?
A hiatal hernia usually only requires treatment when it is large enough to cause symptoms. Medications and surgery are the most common treatments.
Medications may be used to neutralize stomach acid, reduce acid reflux or block acid production to allow for any damaged tissue in your esophagus to heal. Your provider may also recommend making lifestyle changes that can help you manage symptoms of acid reflux, such as eating smaller portion sizes, avoiding acidic foods and wearing loose clothing that reduces pressure on your abdominal area.
Surgery usually involves reducing the size of the opening in your diaphragm or pulling the part of your bulging stomach back down into your abdomen. Your provider may recommend combining hiatal hernia surgery with a weight-loss surgery if excess weight is contributing to your condition.
Hiatal hernia surgery may be needed when medications and lifestyle changes do not effectively reduce symptoms. Surgery may also be needed when the esophagus has been narrowed to the point it is cutting off blood supply to the upper part of the stomach.
If you have a hiatal hernia, your provider will work closely with you to treat it and may recommend surgery if all other non-surgical treatments fail to improve your condition.
How Is Surgery Performed?
Surgery can be performed as open surgery through a single, large incision in your chest or as laparoscopic surgery through several tiny incisions in your chest. Laparoscopic surgery is far less invasive than open surgery and produces fewer complications and less downtime and recovery.
During surgery, your surgeon will pull the hernia back into your abdomen, repair the valve at the bottom of your esophagus and close the hole that was made in your diaphragm. Your surgeon can discuss the nature of your surgery in greater detail based on your unique situation.
Advanced Laparoscopic Associates offers a wide range of weight-loss and general surgeries. If you think you have a hiatal hernia, contact us today to request an appointment and discuss your treatment options.