- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Reflux and hiatus hernia
Coping with reflux
Many people nowadays have or suffer with acid reflux or GERD. Many people constantly suffer with symptoms of acid reflux, belching sore throats and in sever cases whizzing. I can only give coping ideas from my own experience. What I’ve done and what has seemed to help me. This can only be used as a guide and not absolute doctrine. What might work for me might not work for someone else. I do at least hope that it will help others to find their way to being better off.
A lot of articles have stressed that smoking, diet, alcohol and age can contribute to GERD. In my case none of these were the contributing factor. In fact I started to suffer with Gerd will I was training for a half marathon. After a lot of investigation and being put on Proton pump inhibitors I was sent for an endoscopy to find the root of the problem. It was found that the cause of the GERD had been brought on by a hiatus hernia.
A hiatus hernia is the protrusion of the stomach through the oesophagus. It is usually caused by weekend sphincters. It can also be caused by excessive weight lifting. Sphincters are valves that open and close at the top and the bottom of your stomach. When food passed through and into the stomach, the sphincter usually shuts to prevent the back flow of food and acid. When a person has a hiatus hernia the stomach pushes through and up into the oesophagus sometimes making the sphincters weak and unable to close properly after a meal. This allows the back flow of gastric acid to enter the oesophagus and cause heartburn.
A hiatus hernia can be fixed by a surgery known as Nissen Fundoplication. The tests involved before one can undergo this procedure are quite uncomfortable and will be covered in another topic. But because the hernia was only 2 cm I didn't feel necessary for me to under go surgery.
If a person chooses to do surgery there are some advantages and some disadvantages to consider before going ahead.
No more acid reflux
This is the best result ever. The discomfort of reflux gone from your life, you can live a normal life again.
Less belching and pain
Although not in the beginning, there will be less belching and the pain that’s associated with reflux about three months after the surgery.
Eat what you want
You can eat what you want without ever having to worry about the discomfort of GERD.
The surgeon could tighten the valve too tight
When I saw the surgeon it was explained to me that he would locate the stomach in the diaphragm and pull it down into the abdominal cavity. Then the top part of the stomach is then wrapped around the end of the oesophagus and stitched. The problem with that is that it might be stitched too tight and there is no way of telling until after the surgery.
There might be swallowing problems
Before the surgery is carried out a swallowing test is done. This is to find out how strong the muscles involved with swallowing are. It is done by putting a straw like tube down the nose and stops just above your stomach. Then for a while cups of water are given to test the swallow strength. This is to make sure that after the surgery you will have no trouble swallowing. Sometimes after the surgery patients may find it hard to swallow. With time it is said to improve within three to six months.
Belching might sometimes increased but will decrease the time
Not hundred percent effective you might have to return for more surgery.
It can’t deal with GERD
It was explained that even though the hiatus hernia can bring on symptoms of Gerd. Gerd isn’t cause by a hiatus hernia. GERD can’t be cured but can be controlled by diet and or medication.
After putting all these on the table surgery wasn’t the best option for me.
What can you do to improve Acid Reflux symptoms
Experiment with different types of foods. Different people react to different types of food e.g. some people get a lot of acid tomatoes I on the other hand don't. It’s all trial and error and learning to understand your body. Learning to understand what does and what doesn’t work for you.
Suffering with acid reflux due to the hiatus hernia I've learnt a lot of things about my body I would not have to learnt without it. So I’ve looked at it as a positive experience instead of a negative one.
Go to bed three hours after a meal
Never go to bed with a full stomach. At least wait three hours before lying down after having a meal
Sleep with your head and torso elevated. This could be on a wedge pillow or lift your bed with a brick or books to give the bed a tilt so that you are not sleeping flat. This stops back flow of acid coming up your throat.
Occasional drinks are fine, try and find the wine that works for you. I find that Rose wine aggravates my stomach while white wine seems to be fine.
Take it easy on the spicy food
Like the wine, treat yourself to these foods but not on a regular basis. Try as much as possible to cook your own food this way you know what you're putting in it.
Stress contributes a lot to acid reflux. When under a lot of stress the body tends to produce more acid. This is my number one indicator that I have to slow down, let go and relax.
Soft gentle exercise i.e. walking is great. It helps with digestion. Gentle exercise always makes the body work in harmony and you feel better.
If not treated properly acid reflux can be very damaging. Always see your doctor if you are having heart burn more than three times a week.
If diets do not improve your reflux your doctor may prescribe proton pump inhibitors to help with the symptoms. It is important to deal with reflux problems as soon as possible as this could lead to damaging your oesophagus (Barrett’s syndrome) which could sometimes lead to cancer of the oesophagus.
If diet, life style change and medication don’t seem to work then surgery might be the best route to take.