Hiatal Hernia

Illinois Gastroenterology Group -  - Gastroenterology

Illinois Gastroenterology Group

Gastroenterology located in Arlington Heights, IL & Elk Grove Village, IL

By 60, about 60% of Americans have a hiatal hernia. This common condition causes problems like heartburn, acid reflux, bad breath, and breathing problems. The good news is that hiatal hernias are treatable, and the experts at Illinois Gastroenterology Group in Elk Grove and Arlington Heights, Illinois, are here to support you. Book your appointment online or by phone today.

Hiatal Hernia Q & A

What is a Hiatal Hernia?

A hiatal hernia occurs when part of your stomach pushes upwards, through the muscle between your abdomen and chest (the diaphragm), until it enters your chest cavity.

What are the Symptoms of Hiatal Hernia?

A small hiatal hernia doesn't necessarily cause any issues, but a big one allows your stomach contents, including acid, to wash upwards to your esophagus. 

This leads to heartburn, and possibly regurgitation in the mouth, which is known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Some other common symptoms of large hiatal hernias include:

  • Pain or discomfort when swallowing
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Breathing problems
  • Blood in vomit
  • Black stools

If you’re having one or more of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor promptly at Illinois Gastroenterology Group for diagnosis and treatment.

Why Do I Have a Hiatal Hernia?

In many cases, the cause is uncertain. Some things can leave you more susceptible to hiatal hernias, including:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Over the age 50
  • Diaphragm injury
  • Repeated diaphragm pressure, like chronic coughing or lifting heavy objects

You can reduce your risk of a hiatal hernia by stopping smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding activities that cause severe diaphragm strain.

How is a Hiatal Hernia Treated?

Hiatal hernias don't always require treatment. If you have a small hiatal hernia that's not causing you any trouble, your gastroenterologist might simply monitor you to be sure that no new symptoms appear.

If you're dealing with issues like GERD because of a hiatal hernia, lifestyle changes are often the first course of treatment. These can include:

  • Avoiding acidic and spicy foods
  • Not laying flat after meals
  • Losing extra weight
  • Eating smaller meals more often
  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding alcohol

In addition to lifestyle changes, you might need medication to neutralize acid (antacids) or to reduce or temporarily stop acid production.

If you have a severe hiatal hernia, you might need surgery to shift your stomach back into its proper place in your abdomen, repair damaged esophageal muscles, and repair the hernia. Many hiatal hernia repairs can be done with minimally invasive techniques.

If you’re dealing with irritating and uncomfortable hiatal hernia symptoms, you can put it all behind you with help from the Illinois Gastroenterology Group. Use the online booking tool or call the office nearest you today.