A hiatal hernia – aka hiatus hernia – is when part of your stomach moves up through the diaphragm into your chest. Your diaphragm is the big muscle that separates your chest and your abdominal area. It has a small opening (hiatus) through which your food tube (esophagus) passes before connecting to your stomach.
In a hiatal hernia, the stomach pushes up through that opening and into your chest. It’s very common and for most people it’s not causing problems.
For some it can cause symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux though.
If you go to your doctor, they will probably ask you to eat smaller, more frequent meals and do other things to help with the symptoms of GERD.
Plus they will probably advise you to go to the pharmacy for over-the-counter antacids or – if you’ve already done that – prescribe medication.
Is acid lowering medication the only solution?
The medication will make your stomach less acidic – but doesn’t do anything about the hiatal hernia. And lowering stomach acid has a big effect on how well you break down and absorb the nutrients you eat!
You can learn more about the importance of stomach acid in a video I made
Also: if you are diagnosed and have acid reflux, that doesn’t mean that the hiatal hernia is the only reason you have symptoms.
As a functional nutrition practitioner I look for the root causes of health issues. Because you can suppress symptoms, but WHY are they happening in the first place?
Just some reasons why you can have a hiatal hernia:
- Your diaphragm might have become a bit lax or untrained – it’s a muscle after all! This can also happen when you get older.
- If you have a big belly or experience bloating, that might push your stomach up
- When your abdominal muscles are always tense, that might push your stomach up
- It might happen after an accident or surgery
- You can also develop a hiatal hernia after coughing, vomiting, straining during a bowel movement, exercising or lifting heavy objects
So what can you do? Here are some ideas!
- Strengthen your diaphragm with diaphragmatic breathing
- Lose weight
- Take care of your gut health so you get rid of the bloating
- Address constipation so you don’t have to do the straining
- Work with a chiropractor on other hands-on practitioner who is well versed at visceral manipulation
- Learn how to do belly breathing so your abdominal muscles get less tense
- There are several exercises you can do for hiatal hernia: here’s a video with some really helpful ones.
So there are many things you can do before you start yourself on acid lowering medication.
Do you want to get rid of you acid reflux and are you looking for support with this? Let’s talk!
Book a free call here. Speak soon!