If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a hernia, you may be wondering if it will go away. You may also feel inclined to try and manage the condition on your own instead of surgery. Before you make any decisions that can impact your health and overall well-being, consider the following information about hiatal hernias.
What Are Hiatal Hernias?
Hiatal hernias develop when a portion of the stomach forces its way up into the diaphragm. Normally, the muscles in the diaphragm are strong enough to keep the stomach and internal organs in place. But when the diaphragm or chest muscles become too weak to support the abdomen and organs properly, they shift and cause swelling and pain.
Hiatal hernias are extremely common, especially among babies and older adults. Though pregnancy, trauma, obesity, physical strain, and old age are the most common causes, anyone can develop them. Though the condition is no cause for alarm, those who experience symptoms may ponder solutions to help alleviate the discomfort. Hiatal hernias can also be asymptomatic.
Hernias that don’t cause pain or discomfort generally do not require surgery. Without proper care, hernias can become worse. Treatment is highly dependent on the type of hernia present.
Hiatal Hernia Types
Hiatal hernias are also known as sliding or type I due to a portion of the stomach or organs sliding in and out of an opening or weakness in the diaphragm. Type II, III, and IV are known as paraesophageal hernias. Instead of the stomach or organs sliding into the diaphragm, they slide up into the chest cavity, near the esophagus.
Regardless of the type of hiatal hernia present, the condition increases the risk of GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease, strangulation, and other serious complications. The danger of hiatal hernias is that the stomach is not the only organ that can roll or slide out of place into the diaphragm or chest. Other organs, such as the pancreas, liver, or colon, can also become trapped there.
Non-Surgical Treatments to Consider
If your hiatal hernia is not causing any serious symptoms, you may consider putting off surgery for a while. However, you’ll need to make some lifestyle changes and take medications to manage the condition. You should also follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations and the following considerations.
- Avoid eating a few hours before lying down
- Consume smaller portion sizes
- Lose excess weight
- Avoid caffeinated, alcoholic, and carbonated beverages
- Avoid fatty or spicy foods
- Refrain from smoking
- Avoid sleeping flat
- Use antacids, proton pump inhibitors, or antihistamines
Hernia symptoms often come and go. Surgery is usually recommended as a last resort if medication and lifestyle adjustments fail. In rare cases, emergency surgery is necessary for serious hernias that become life-threatening.
Why Hernia Surgery Is Recommended
Surgery is the best and fastest way to eliminate a hernia. Depending on the cause, the procedure either reinforces the weak muscular wall or seals the opening so the organs no longer push through.
Orange County Robotic General Surgery offers hiatal hernia surgery and alternative treatments for hernias of types. Dr. Abitin Khosravi, MD, is a leading hernia repair expert. He uses the most advanced practices, including laparoscopic techniques and instruments, to minimize the risks associated with surgical hiatal hernia repairs for patients.
Hiatal Hernia Repair at Orange County Robotic General Surgery
To perform the procedure, Dr. Khosravi makes a few small incisions in the abdomen (in rare situations, the chest) to access the stomach or organs that are out of place and reposition them where they belong. Depending on the severity of the hernia, he may also revise the diaphragm and esophagus to seal the opening, keep the stomach and organs in place, and help prevent the hernia from returning. He does this by wrapping a small section of the upper stomach around the esophagus to shorten it.
Surgery doesn’t just eliminate the hernia; it also stops the symptoms. When considering treatment options, look at how your symptoms affect your daily life. You might not mind having to take antacids or modifying your activities and sleeping positions to keep acid reflux and GERD at bay. However, the longer the condition persists, the more damage it can cause to your body and health.
Untreated hiatal hernias eventually become larger. The pain can become excruciating, and the possibility of internal bleeding is high. Repeated episodes of acid reflux or GERD can lead to inflammation of the esophagus and lungs. Difficulty swallowing foods and fluids without pain and discomfort may occur.
It’s best to consider all treatment options for your situation if you experience hernia symptoms. But if your discomfort becomes persistent or unbearable, you should opt for surgery sooner than later.
Get Freedom and Relief From Hiatal Hernia Pain and Symptoms
Hernias don’t always go away on their own without medical intervention. There’s no sense in putting off surgery to heal your hernia pain and symptoms so you can resume enjoying your life hernia free.
To find out if inguinal hernia repair surgery is right for you, Contact Orange County General Robotic Surgery at (714) 706-1257 for a consultation with Dr. Abtin H. Khosravi.