Hiatal hernia is a condition that occurs when the stomach enters the chest through the diaphragm. Once it occurs, only surgery can fix it permanently.
Although hiatal hernia is often asymptomatic, heartburn and reflux of food are often indicators of a possible hiatal hernia. Upper stomach pain, vomiting, chronic coughing or throat inflammation are other possible consequences, especially in large hernias.
Can they be prevented?
Not entirely, but the symptoms can be alleviated and, to a certain extent, their evolution can be delayed. Obesity, intense physical exercise (especially abdominal) and pregnancy are factors that contribute to the increase of the hernia and on which we have the possibility to act.
These same factors increase reflux and heartburn, so they should be taken into account in case of heartburn. Other measures that can help us to soothe heartburn are: elevate the head of the bed at bedtime, do not eat large meals or meals containing foods that cause heartburn, avoid carbonated beverages and do not go to bed shortly after eating.
Antacids and stomach protectors can also help us to alleviate the symptoms of reflux, but only surgery, with the restitution of the stomach in the abdomen and the closure of the hiatus can provide a definitive solution. Today, laparoscopic fundoplication is a safer surgical technique that should be considered in those patients in whom hiatal hernia interferes with their quality of life. And the smaller the hernia the easier and more reliable the repair will be.