A hernia can occur at any time, and many people are susceptible to this disease. It occurs when the stomach bulges upward and out of the belly into the chest cavity. There are different types of hernias that can happen, but a hiatal hernia is the most common. In North America, upwards of 60% of older adults will end up with some type of a hiatal hernia.
Causes of Hernias
The most common type of hernia is usually caused by weakened muscles and connective tissue that lies near the hiatus. What happens to this weakened muscle is that it allows a portion of the stomach to push up through the diaphragm and then the hiatus moves up above the abdomen into the chest cavity.
Most of the time a hernia will not have any symptoms. It is usually noticed at a physical exam. Acid reflux can also occur, depending on the effect of the hernia on the lower esophageal sphincter. Symptoms can also include chest pain and shortness of breath. If these symptoms occur, medical attention will be needed to rule out a more serious health concern.
Alternative Treatments for Hernias
There are no specific over the counter treatments for hernias besides antacids for the acid reflux, but there are lifestyle changes that can be made in order to reduce the symptoms of a hernia.
Since many hiatal hernias do not need medical attention, there are many things that you can do at home in order to reduce any symptoms that you might be feeling due to your hernia. First, nicotine should be cut from your daily life. This relaxes the valve of the esophagus and will only add to any acid reflux that might be present. Eating habits can also be changed in order to reduce this symptom.
Being overweight can also be a complication, so if you are overweight, you can make an effort to lost weight. And you will also need to avoid putting any unnecessary pressure on your stomach from clothes or other items.
Medical treatment is necessary when there is a lot of pain or if you have developed a hernia that is not classified as a sliding hiatal hernia.
Since most hernia need no treatment, there is very little a doctor can do. But if there are symptoms due to acid reflux, you can get a prescription for it from your doctor. The only time surgery is required for a hernia is when it is a paresophageal or mixed hiatal hernia.