A sliding hiatal hernia develops once a region of the stomach slides upward into the chest cavity via an opening or hiatus in the diaphragm that rests in between the chest and the abdomen. This develops when the supporting tissues are weakened. The potential risk factors include obesity, aging and smoking. In uncommon circumstances, the stomach squeezes via the hiatus and lodges close to the esophagus. Take note that this is likely to strangle the stomach and cut off the supply of blood.
An individual with a sliding hiatal hernia should avoid large or heavy meals in order to prevent acid reflux. Consuming heavy meals can also lead to indigestion that can result to reflux.
It is recommended to focus on small-sized meals to promote weight loss. Even excess weight can cause reflux due to the pressure placed on the abdomen. The individual must wait 3-4 hours before lying down after meals to allow digestion of food to prevent reflux. In addition, the individual must also avoid foods that can trigger heartburn to minimize the symptoms such as fried or fatty foods, citrus fruits or juices and tomato-based products. Even carbonated drinks, caffeine and alcoholic beverages can also instigate heartburn.
Oftentimes, there are no symptoms at all and regular physical examination can help detect the presence of the condition. The symptoms often include heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that causes frequent acid reflux and heartburn.
Over-the-counter H2 blockers can provide relief from symptoms for a number of hours by blocking the production of stomach acid. The doctor might prescribe a stronger medication if needed. There are also over-the-counter and prescription proton-pump inhibitors that work by blocking the production of acid as well as promote healing of the damage to the esophageal tissue.
The doctor can also recommend surgery for individuals who could not find relief from dietary changes or medication and those who continue to suffer from severe reflux symptoms. The presence of pain from eating, difficulties with bowel movement, nausea or vomiting can indicate a strangulated hernia or obstruction.
When surgery is carried out, it involves pulling the stomach back down into the abdomen and a small opening is created at the diaphragm. In some circumstances, the doctor will repair the weakened esophageal sphincter since it is responsible for the frequent acid reflux.
Throughout the years, the advancements in surgical techniques for a sliding hiatal hernia include minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures. The doctor can also utilize a flexible tube that is inserted into a small-sized incision. The miniature camera that is inserted allows the doctor to view the interior of the body while the operation and repair of the weakened tissue is carried out. It is important to note that the recurrence of a sliding hiatal hernia can be minimized by avoiding pressure on the abdomen as well as maintaining a healthy weight.