The link between hiatal hernias and GERD is a strong one. A hiatal hernia occurs in different parts of the body. It happens when an organ, such as the stomach, is pushed through the muscle and into another area of the body. In most occurrences, the stomach will be pushed through the diaphragm and into the chest.
The diaphragm is the muscle that separates the stomach from the chest.
While this is not usually life threatening, there are other complications that can occur if the problem is not treated. The biggest complication is the development of GERD. GERD is similar to acid reflux disease. Acid is rushed out of the stomach and into the esophagus causing burning, coughing, and mild to extreme discomfort depending on how long a person has suffered from GERD and how much acid makes its way into the esophagus.
What to Watch Out For
GERD can occur without hiatal hernias present. There are many symptoms a person should watch out for especially if they notice most symptoms occurred after a big meal or after exercising.
Symptoms like stomach cramps, loss of voice, shortness of breath, burning in the esophagus and stomach, and dizziness. A person should consult their doctor who will perform tests to see if a hiatal hernia is present or not.
If a hiatal hernia is present, the doctor may suggest surgery. This is only if the hernia is affecting other organs ability to function or if the stomach appears twisted in any way. Otherwise, it is best to leave the stomach where it is and prescribe GERD medication so that the acid in the stomach will not affect other parts of the body.
Medication is not the only deterrent one should use when fighting GERD. A person will have to change their diet and exercise regularly in order to help prevent GERD. If not, a person may develop cancer later on in life. In some cases, a hiatal hernia will need to be operated on. This is if the medication and other lifestyle changes have not worked or if the GERD has become worse.
The surgery involves pushing the stomach back through the diaphragm and closing up the hole to the chest. Sometimes acid can get into the chest. It this happens, then surgery will be done to repair the damage. A person will still have to change their diet and exercise plan, but the GERD should not be as frequent.
GERD affects millions of people all over the world. Sometimes it is caused by a hiatal hernia which can cause more acid to be produced and distributed in the body. Sometimes GERD is caused by a persons eating habits. Only a doctor will be able to tell a person the actual problem.
But once the problem has been addressed, it is important to make sure that a person is eating the right foods, and getting plenty of exercise. These are preventative methods that will help fight GERD and help reduce the amount of acid traveling into the esophagus.