Hiatal hernias are extremely common and often go undetected until a gastroenterologist uncovers them during a physical examination. At Fifth Ave GI in East Harlem / Upper East Side, New York, the highly skilled team of gastroenterologists and their staff specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of hiatal hernias as well as other structural abnormalities that are often present in the abdomen. If you have unexplained stomach pain or discomfort, typically around meal time, call or click to schedule an appointment today!
A hiatal hernia is a structural abnormality in which a small portion of the stomach is forced or pushed upwards through the diaphragm.
Small hernias can go undetected for years until another health condition presents itself. Larger hernias, on the other hand, are known to cause heartburn brought on by the constant backup of stomach acid and food.
Self-care and the use of over-the-counter medications can remedy smaller hernias, but larger hernias often require surgery to prevent future problems. If you have symptoms like heartburn and feelings of fullness or bloating after eating, you should make an appointment with Fifth Avenue GI.
Small hiatal hernias rarely cause distress and often show no symptoms at all. As a hernia enlargens, however, acid reflux and heartburn begin to occur more frequently. If left untreated, this causes erosion in the lower portion of the esophagus that results in extreme pain and discomfort.
Larger hernias result in bloating and pressure that lead to feelings of fullness and discomfort, in addition to the burning sensation that's associated with heartburn and GERD.
The longer the hernia remains in place, the more acid buildup you will experience, especially when you're lying down or reclining. In fact, the symptoms might be particularly noticeable at night when you're trying to sleep.
The most common treatments involve the use of medications to control the amount of acid present in the stomach. Medications can:
Reduce how much acid the stomach produces
Besides taking the medications, exercises that involve stretching the abdomen allow the stomach to return to its normal position.
If a larger hiatal hernia is present, you made need surgery to reduce the size of the opening in the diaphragm.
During the procedure, the gastroenterologist makes an incision in the lower portion of the chest wall or the upper part of the abdomen and inserts a small camera so that the doctor can identify the issues at hand. The next step is reducing the size of the opening in the diaphragm to prevent the stomach from moving upward.