A hiatal hernia forms when an area in the stomach moves upward through the diaphragm. The diaphragm has a small opening or hiatus through which the esophagus passes on its way to the stomach. The stomach might push up through the opening and result to a hiatal hernia.
Causes of hiatal hernia
- Weak supportive tissues
- Pressure placed on the stomach and the surrounding muscles
- Age-related changes in the diaphragm
- Being born with an unusually large hiatus or opening in the diaphragm
- Poor posture while sitting and lifting heavy objects
- Chest pain
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Abdominal pain
- Frequent belching
- Feeling of fullness after meals
- Vomiting blood or passing black stools which indicates gastrointestinal bleeding.
- Eat at least 6 small frequent meals every day. Avoid large and heavy meals to prevent back flow of food to the stomach and lessen the symptoms of hiatal hernia.
- Avoid eating spicy foods, caffeinated drinks and anything that upsets the gastric contents of the stomach and worsen the condition.
- Take the prescribed over-the-counter antacids before meals to lessen the symptoms.
- Avoid lying down, bending over or being physically active after meals to prevent back flow of food to the stomach.
- Loss some weight to lessen the symptoms.
- Take the prescribed over-the-counter pain medication such as paracetamol to lessen the discomfort and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin to lessen the inflammation and pain.
- Perform simple exercises such as walking. Take a brisk walk for at least 45 minutes every day to strengthen the uppper and lower abdomen and the pelvic floor.
- After waking up in the morning, drink a glass of water that is slightly warm. It will relax the muscles of the stomach and diaphragm. Avoid drinking coffee, tea and cold water in the morning.
- Self-massage the upper area of the abdominal cavity to lessen the discomfort and symptoms of hiatal hernia. Massage can strengthen the muscles of the stomach.
- Perform proper body mechanics when lifting heavy objects. Lift heavy objects using the knees and not the back. Bend low using the knee when.
- Cessation of smoking
- Eat dinner 2-3 hours before going to sleep
- Elevate the head of the bed at least 4-6 inches
- Avoid straining during bowel movements.