How to Fix a Hiatal Hernia Yourself, and When to Seek Medical Help
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Your diaphragm — which is your primary muscle used for breathing — is a thin, dome-shaped muscle that separates your chest cavity from your abdomen.
An opening in your diaphragm (called a hiatus in medical terminology) allows your esophagus (the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach) to connect with your stomach. If the upper part of your stomach pushes through this opening, you have a hiatal hernia.
Keep reading to learn how to treat a hiatal hernia at home, hernia prevention tips, and when you should seek professional medical help.
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If you have a hiatal hernia, be aware of symptoms that may indicate blood flow to your stomach has been blocked by an obstruction or a strangulated hernia. Call your doctor immediately if you:
Chest discomfort could also be a symptom of heart concerns, which also requires emergency medical treatment.
In addition to losing weight and avoiding “trigger” foods, there are a number of anecdotal treatments for hiatal hernias that are suggested by proponents of natural healing. Some of these suggestions include:
Another natural treatment, known as the warm water method, suggests following these steps to treat a hiatal hernia:
Please note: The anecdotal treatments discussed in this section are not medically approved. Before trying them, consult with your doctor to see if they’re appropriate and safe for your current health situation.
If lifestyle changes and home treatments aren’t helping, your doctor may recommend prescription medication or surgery.
Prescription medication for hiatal hernias include:
Surgery for hiatal hernias typically involves three steps. The surgeon:
According to the Esophageal Cancer Awareness Association (ECAA), hiatal hernias are quite common, occurring in up to 60 percent of people by the time they are 60 years old. They also note that it’s unusual for serious conditions to develop from this type of hernia. Hiatal hernias are most common in adults who are 50+ years old.
It’s not currently known why the opening in your diaphragm becomes weak and enlarges. It may be hereditary or it may be caused by pressure buildup in your abdominal cavity from such things as:
You can’t prevent hereditary conditions, but you may be able to address other potential causes.
In a 2007 interview, John E. Pandolfino, MD stated that, “Obese people are certainly more prone to the development of hiatus hernia.” This leads to the conclusion that, if you are overweight, reducing your weight could lower your chances of experiencing a hiatal hernia. Other prevention methods to consider could include:
Hiatal hernias are quite common, especially in adults who are 50+ years old. Fortunately, it’s unusual for serious conditions to develop from them.
While there are lifestyle changes you can make to treat hiatal hernia, consider discussing those changes with your doctor before moving ahead with them. Lifestyle changes include:
If home treatment is not effective, your doctor may recommend prescription medication or, in some cases, surgery.
Last medically reviewed on May 27, 2021
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