What is Hiatus Hernia?
Hiatus hernia occurs when a part of the stomach pushes upwards into the chest region through diaphragm. Diaphragm is a large muscle that lies between the abdomen and the chest. It has a small opening (hiatus) through which the food pipe passes and joins the stomach. Normally the stomach lies below the diaphragm, but in people with hiatus hernia, the stomach pushes upwards through this opening and it is called as hiatus hernia.
It occurs mostly in people above the age group of 40 years. In most of the cases, the hiatus hernia is so small that it is not noticed until the person undergoes some tests for diagnosing some other condition.
However large hernias may cause discomfort like backflow of food and acid from the stomach into the food pipe or burning in the chest.
How does hiatus hernia present?
Small hiatus hernias do not cause any signs and symptoms; however larger ones may present with:
- Burning in the chest which is worst while lying down or while leaning over
- Feeling of fullness after eating
- Chest pain or abdominal discomfort
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Vomiting of blood or black stools may indicate GI bleeding
What causes hiatus hernia?
The exact cause of hiatus hernia is not known but it is mostly due to weakness of the muscles surrounding the opening of diaphragm (hiatus) through which the food pipe joins the stomach.
Due to the weakness of the muscles, the upper portion of the stomach pushes upwards and enters the chest cavity.
The weakness of these muscles surrounding the hiatus may be due to:
- An injury
- Persistent pressure due to chronic cough, vomiting, straining at stools or due to heavy lifting.
Some people may have a large hiatal opening since birth which makes it easy for the stomach to bulge in the chest cavity.
How is hiatus hernia diagnosed?
The tests that can be carried out to diagnose a hiatus hernia are:
- A thin tube with a light is passed through the food pipe in order to check for any inflammation.
- The person is made to swallow a chalky liquid that coats the upper gastrointestinal tract and provides a clear image with borders of the food pipe, stomach and some part of the small intestine.
- A thin flexible tube is passed through the nose into the food pipe and then into the stomach which measures the movements and pressure in the food pipe.
- Eating many smaller meals at frequent intervals rather than eating large meals at a time.
- Avoiding foods that trigger the symptoms of burning in chest like chocolates, spicy or oily foods, onions, citrus fruits etc.
- Avoiding alcohol and smoking
- Losing weight if the person is obese or overweight.
- Not going to the bed immediately after eating meals. There should be a gap of at least 3 hours between having food and sleeping.
Homeopathy follows an individualistic approach and focuses mainly on the symptoms of the patient suffering from hiatus hernia. Homeopathic medicines help greatly in relieving the symptoms caused due to hiatus hernia like burning in the chest, belching, difficulty in swallowing etc.
Best homeopathic remedies for hiatus hernia are:
- Sour taste in the mouth
- Slight nausea with acid reflux.
- Feeling of fullness of abdomen after eating
- Sedentary lifestyle with excessive intake of coffee or wine.
- Difficulty in digesting the foods like bread, cabbage, beans and other fermentable foods.
- Feels hungry even after eating
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Hiccoughs accompanying acid reflux
- Loud gurgling sounds in the stomach
- Pit of the stomach sensitive to tight clothing
- Feels bloated and stuffed
- Belching offers no relief
- Colicky pain in the abdomen and burning in the chest which is better by bending double.
- Nausea with giddiness
- Vomiting and fainting with cold sweat
- Intermittent pulse with oppression in the chest and heart.
- Body is icy cold in open air, uncovering.
- Sinking feeling at the pit of the stomach