Can You Cure Symptoms Of Hiatal Hernia By Changing Your Diet?

Hiatal Hernia Diet

A lot of people think a specific hiatal hernia diet can quickly relieve symptoms of acid reflux, belching, and nausea.

So how doe sit work? Well, a diet for hiatal hernia is all about avoiding those foodstuffs which actually stimulate acid reflux, burping or belching, and excessive production of stomach acid. There are general rules for this kind of diet, but one of the most effective ways of establishing which foodstuffs exacerbate your condition is to keep a food diary.

In this diary you record everything that you eat, and the episodes of heartburn, GERD, or acid reflux that you experience. By correlating the record of what you’ve eaten in your food diary with the symptoms of hiatal hernia, it’s possible to establish the risk factors on a personal basis.

Having said that, the typical diet designed to combat acid reflux and GERD would include the following restrictions:

1) Little or no fried or fatty food, including fatty cuts of meats, sausages, bacon, offal and the like.

2) Little or no high-fat dairy products, including full fat milk, full fat cheese, yogurt and cream. Low-fat or zero fat products are acceptable substitutes, as it skimmed milk.

3) Nuts, particularly if they are roasted or fried, may be a trigger factor because of their high fat content and therefore probably should be avoided in a hiatal hernia diet. Nonetheless, the variation between different individuals mean that the food diary is an essential part of controlling the symptomatology of this condition.

4) Reports about caffeine vary; you may have to try this for yourself to see if it accentuates the symptoms of the hernia, or acid reflux, heartburn.

5) Carbonated drinks, regardless of flavor, should be avoided because they do definitely stimulate acid reflux. Regrettably the same is true of alcohol, which may be painful for those of you who like to drink! Interestingly enough, white wine appears to be one of the worst offenders in this regard.

6) It follows that the foods which are low in fat, such as rice, pulses, grains, steamed vegetables and many grilled foods, are much more acceptable, and far less likely to trigger symptoms.

Now you may be already be thinking that a diet composed of the foodstuffs that are permitted in the regime above is going to be very boring. That’s why it is absolutely essential to buy into a program which can show you exactly how to make the most of the foods that are acceptable in a diet designed for people with hiatal hernia, so you can avoid stimulating the symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn by eating the “wrong” foods.

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Types Of Hiatal Hernia

Types of Hiatal Hernia

Different types of hiatus hernia.

Green is the esophagus, red is the stomach, purple is the diaphragm, blue is the HIS-angle.

A is normal; B is pre-stage; C is a sliding hernia; D is a paraesophageal hernia.

As you know, a hiatal or hiatus hernia is the protrusion of part of the stomach through the diaphragm into the chest cavity. It occurs when small part of the stomach moves up through the diaphragm because the opening through which the esophagus passes is somehow either in large all the muscles of the diaphragm have become weaker. You may never know that you have a hiatal hernia, but it can cause problems by allowing acid and food from the stomach contents to move backwards up into the esophagus. Generally speaking, only a very large hiatal hernia will require surgery.

Having said that, there two types of hernia, one of which is considerably more serious than the other. 95% of these hernias are of the sliding type, where the portion of the stomach protruding through the diaphragm is free to move upwards and downwards. The gastroesophageal junction has moved up above the diaphragm, but can still move backwards and forwards freely. In a paraesophageal hiatus hernia, part of the stomach is trapped above the diaphragm alongside the esophagus without any free movement.

The good news about having a hiatal hernia is that most people who have the condition will not experience any signs or symptoms. And of course an asymptomatic hiatal hernia doesn’t really require any treatment – indeed, you probably won’t get any treatment because you won’t know you have a problem in the first place!

Even when there are signs that a hernia is present, treatment for a hiatal hernia is really about treatment for the symptoms that you experience; these may include acid reflux, heartburn, and possibly gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.

Hiatal hernia is actually nicknamed the great mimic because of its capacity to mimic the symptoms of so many other conditions. These include palpitations, shortness of breath, discomfort in the esophagus, acid reflux, indigestion and heartburn.

Heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux are terms that are commonly confused, so let’s try and establish exactly what they are before we go any further. But first, a small diversion….

Acid reflux is the movement of stomach contents up into the esophagus; it causes heartburn, which is basically a burning sensation inside the chest. Indigestion, by contrast, is a term is used to describe discomfort or fullness during or after eating, perhaps with a sense of burning or pain in part of the stomach. The not entirely separate, but they diagnosed more or less by the area of which they occur; indigestion implies a stomach problem, either a bloated, full feeling, a sense of nausea, a growling stomach, pain in the abdomen, or perhaps a burning sensation in the stomach.

Hiatal Hernia Treatment

Clearly, you’re going to want to treat any symptoms of heartburn or indigestion. This could be done with over-the-counter antacids products such as Maalox, Rennies and Tums. This might provide superficial and symptomatic relief, but it’s much more likely that you’re going to need something to reduce acid production.

Medications like Tagamet and Zantac (ranitidine and cemetidine respectively) have proved immensely effective over the years in reducing the production of stomach acid; they’re now available over-the-counter, with stronger versions available by prescription.

However, to some extent they’ve been superseded by proton pump inhibitors or PPIs which actually block acid production. These medications include Prevacid and Prilosec (lansoprazole and omeprazole respectively). The advantage of taking these medications is that they allow damaged esophageal tissue to heal.

In a rather limited number of cases surgery may be required for hiatal hernia treatment. There are various approaches to this, the most common of which is the Nissen fundoplication. In this operation, the upper part of the stomach is wrapped around the lower part of the esophagus, thereby preventing the stomach protruding through the hiatus in the diaphragm – and coincidentally inhibiting the reflux of gastric juices and acid. This is a medical procedure that is generally conducted laparoscopically, and has a high success rate, with quick recovery times.

Diagram from Wikipedia commons.

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