Can Hiatal Hernia Cause GERD? If you have been diagnosed with Hiatal Hernia then naturally Acid Reflux can be a regular inconvenience. The pressure caused by this growth can cause pressure against the stomach and push stomach acid up into the esophagus but can this develop into GERD?
Hiatal hernia is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide and is closely linked to acid reflux. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a digestive disorder that develops alongside chronic acid reflux. Depending on how much acid reflux persists this certainly can be something that happens.
So understanding and managing hiatal hernia is crucial for individuals suffering from acid reflux, as it can significantly impact their symptoms and overall quality of life. For this post, we will further explore what it means to have both health conditions and what action can be taken to help manage this situation in the best way that is possible.
So let’s take a look at this.
Can Hiatal Hernia Cause GERD and Other FAQs
Understanding – What is a Hiatal Hernia?
A hiatal hernia occurs when a portion of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm and into the chest cavity. The diaphragm is a muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdomen and plays a crucial role in breathing.
There are two main types of hiatal hernia:
- Sliding and
Sliding hiatal hernias are the most common and occur when the junction between the esophagus and stomach slides up into the chest. Paraesophageal hiatal hernias are less common but more serious, as they involve a portion of the stomach pushing through the diaphragm next to the esophagus.
The exact cause of hiatal hernias is unknown, but there are several risk factors that can increase a person’s likelihood of developing one.
These risk factors include;
- Smoking, and
- Certain Medical Conditions (eg. Connective Tissue Disorders and Chronic Coughing/Bronchitis).
Also, Hiatal hernias can be congenital, which means they can be present at birth. This can be a trigger for Acid Reflux in Babies and Children but generally speaking as a multi-generational health condition here is what you should know.
The Link Between Hiatal Hernia and Acid Reflux: Uncovering the Connection
There is a strong connection between hiatal hernia and acid reflux. The presence of a hiatal hernia can contribute to the development of acid reflux by disrupting the normal function of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
The LES is a ring of muscle located at the bottom of the esophagus that acts as a valve, preventing stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus.
When a hiatal hernia is present, it can weaken or loosen the LES, allowing acid to reflux into the esophagus.
Research has shown that individuals with hiatal hernias are more likely to experience acid reflux symptoms compared to those without hernias.
One study found that 60% of individuals with hiatal hernias also had GERD symptoms, compared to only 16% of those without hernias.
Another study found that individuals with hiatal hernias had a higher prevalence of esophageal acid exposure and more frequent reflux episodes.
The Stealthy Culprit: How Hiatal Hernia Can Worsen Acid Reflux Symptoms
Hiatal hernias can worsen acid reflux symptoms in several ways. One mechanism is through increased pressure on the LES. When a portion of the stomach pushes through the diaphragm, it can put pressure on the LES, causing it to open more frequently and allowing acid to reflux into the esophagus.
This can lead to symptoms such as heartburn, regurgitation, and chest pain.
Another way hiatal hernias can worsen acid reflux symptoms is by disrupting the normal anatomy of the esophagus and stomach. The protrusion of the stomach into the chest cavity can alter the angle at which the esophagus meets the stomach, making it easier for acid to flow back into the esophagus.
This can result in more frequent and severe episodes of acid reflux. There are also anecdotal reports of individuals experiencing relief from their acid reflux symptoms after undergoing surgery to repair their hiatal hernia.
This suggests that addressing the underlying hernia can have a positive impact on acid reflux symptoms.
Unmasking the Silent Saboteur: Signs and Symptoms of Hiatal Hernia
The signs and symptoms of a hiatal hernia can vary depending on the type and severity of the hernia. Common symptoms include heartburn, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, regurgitation of food or liquids, and a feeling of fullness after eating.
These symptoms can be similar to those of acid reflux, making it challenging to differentiate between the two conditions.
It is important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, as a proper diagnosis is crucial for effective management.
Your doctor may order tests such as an upper endoscopy or a barium swallow to evaluate the presence and severity of a hiatal hernia. In any case, there are many ideas to try to manage this condition alongside acid reflux.
Please keep reading we will cover this in the next section.
Treatment for Hiatal Hernia and Acid Reflux
The treatment options for hiatal hernia and acid reflux depend on the severity of symptoms and the impact on a person’s quality of life. Mild cases of hiatal hernia and acid reflux can often be managed with lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter medications. Dietary supplements in some cases may also be beneficial.
But mostly lifestyle changes that can help manage hiatal hernia and acid reflux include;
- Maintaining a Healthy Weight,
- Avoiding Trigger Foods (such as spicy or fatty foods),
- Eating Smaller, More Frequent Meals,
- Avoiding Lying Down Immediately After Eating,
- and Elevating the Head of the Bed while Sleeping.
These changes can help reduce the frequency and severity of acid reflux symptoms.
In more severe cases, medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) or H2 blockers may be prescribed to reduce stomach acid production and alleviate symptoms.
In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to repair the hiatal hernia and strengthen the LES.
The Impact of Hiatal Hernia on Acid Reflux: Exploring the Mechanisms
Hiatal hernias can have a significant impact on acid reflux by disrupting the normal function of the LES. The protrusion of the stomach into the chest cavity can put pressure on the LES, causing it to open more frequently and allowing acid to reflux into the esophagus.
This can lead to symptoms such as heartburn, regurgitation, and chest pain.
In addition to increased pressure on the LES, hiatal hernias can also lead to increased acid exposure and more frequent reflux episodes. Note: *This is how GERD can develop as mentioned in the beginning.
Ultimately, the altered anatomy caused by the hernia can make it easier for acid to flow back into the esophagus, leading to more severe symptoms.
Silent Aggravation: How Hiatal Hernia Can Exacerbate Acid Reflux Symptoms
One of the challenges of managing hiatal hernia-related acid reflux symptoms is that they can worsen unexpectedly. Certain factors can trigger hiatal hernia-related symptoms, such as eating large meals, lying down after eating, bending over, or wearing tight clothing around the waist.
These triggers can put additional pressure on the stomach and diaphragm, exacerbating acid reflux symptoms.
To manage and prevent symptom flare-ups, it is important to identify and avoid these triggers. Eating smaller, more frequent meals, avoiding lying down immediately after eating, and wearing loose-fitting clothing can help reduce the risk of symptom aggravation, and can also help contribute towards partial or full remission of your reflux symptoms.
However, one very worrying aspect of this, that must be addressed, is the actual diagnosis.
The Hidden Danger: Why Hiatal Hernia Often Goes Undiagnosed in Acid Reflux Patients
Now, Hiatal hernias are often undiagnosed in individuals with acid reflux due to overlapping symptoms and misdiagnosis. The symptoms of hiatal hernia, such as heartburn and regurgitation, are similar to those of acid reflux, making it difficult to differentiate between the two conditions.
As a result, many individuals with hiatal hernias may be misdiagnosed with acid reflux and receive treatment that does not address their underlying hiatal hernia.
For this purpose, advocating for proper testing and evaluation is crucial for individuals experiencing persistent acid reflux symptoms. Tests such as an upper endoscopy or a barium swallow can help identify the presence and severity of a hiatal hernia, allowing for appropriate treatment and management.
But still, for anyone that is fortunate enough not to have Hiatal hernia or acid reflux (or GERD), it must be noted.
Prevention is Key: Lifestyle Changes to Reduce the Risk of Hiatal Hernia and Acid Reflux
Preventing hiatal hernia and acid reflux involves making lifestyle changes that reduce the risk factors associated with these conditions.
Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial, as obesity is a significant risk factor for both hiatal hernia and acid reflux. Losing weight through a combination of healthy eating and regular exercise and fitness can help reduce the pressure on the stomach and diaphragm, reducing the risk of hernia formation and acid reflux.
Avoiding trigger foods, such as spicy or fatty foods, can also help prevent acid reflux symptoms. These foods can relax the LES and increase the likelihood of acid reflux episodes.
Practicing good posture, avoiding tight clothing around the waist, and incorporating stress management techniques into daily life can also help reduce the risk of hiatal hernia and acid reflux.
Seeking Relief: Strategies for Alleviating Acid Reflux Symptoms Caused by Hiatal Hernia
There are several strategies for managing acid reflux symptoms caused by hiatal hernias. Dietary modifications can play a significant role in symptom relief. Also, avoiding trigger foods, such as spicy or fatty foods, can help reduce the frequency and severity of acid reflux episodes.
And eating smaller, more frequent meals and avoiding lying down immediately after eating can also help prevent symptom flare-ups. Natural remedies and alternative therapies may also provide relief for acid reflux symptoms.
Some individuals find relief from symptoms by drinking herbal teas, such as chamomile or ginger tea, which have soothing properties for the digestive system.
Elevating the head of the bed while sleeping can also help prevent acid reflux episodes during the night.
I would also personally recommend trying out this Extra Strength Tooth Oil by a company called OraMD because Acid Reflux can seriously affect oral health and can even contribute to gum disease.
You can also try drinking Mint Tea. Basically, you can help neutralize stomach acid and it has less of an effect on oral health. I am currently only just taking Magnesium t help manage my blood pressure but this is my next supplement.
Hiatal hernia is a common condition that is closely linked to acid reflux. Understanding and managing hiatal hernia is crucial for individuals suffering from acid reflux, as it can significantly impact their symptoms and overall quality of life.
By recognizing the signs and symptoms of hiatal hernia, seeking proper diagnosis and treatment, and making lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of hernia formation and acid reflux, individuals can take proactive steps in managing these conditions and finding relief from their symptoms.
However, like any medical condition, It is important to seek medical advice and work with healthcare professionals to develop an individualized treatment plan that addresses both hiatal hernia and acid reflux or GERD together.