WHAT IS A HIATAL HERNIA?
A hiatal hernia is a condition that develops when the upper part of your stomach pushes through a weak spot in your diaphragm, the thin muscle that separates your abdomen from your chest.
In a healthy body, your diaphragm prevents stomach acid from flowing back into your esophagus. When a hiatal hernia develops, acids are able to move through the diaphragm and into your esophagus, causing a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A HIATAL HERNIA?
The symptoms of a hiatal hernia result from GERD and may include:
- Dry cough
- Bad breath
- Difficulty swallowing
- Shortness of breath
If stomach acids frequently flow into your mouth, you may also notice the wearing away of enamel on your teeth.
HOW IS A HIATAL HERNIA DIAGNOSED?
You may undergo a procedure where you swallow a barium solution that your provider follows through your gastrointestinal tract with X-ray technology.
You may also need an upper endoscopy, a procedure where your provider inserts a slender tube with an attached camera into your throat and down into your upper digestive tract. The camera sends back real-time images of your esophagus and can help your doctor identify a hiatal hernia.
HOW IS A HIATAL HERNIA TREATED?
Dr. Ashwath may take a wait-and-see approach to treating a hiatal hernia. They may recommend over-the-counter acid reducers to treat GERD symptoms.
Your provider also works with you on a diet plan that limits spicy foods, alcohol, and other products that can worsen GERD symptoms.
Surgery to repair the hernia may be necessary if medications and lifestyle changes aren’t enough to control moderate to severe GERD symptoms.