Do you encounter chest pain? Cannot swallow your food properly? Then, you must immediately see a doctor as it can be gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD). It occurs when the stomach acid frequently flows back into food-pipe (esophagus). You will also be shocked to know that this acid reflux can irritate the lining of your esophagus. Many people including pregnant women may encounter the problem of heartburn or even indigestion due to GERD.
Know about hiatus hernia
Hiatus hernia is more common than it is thought of. It is a type of internal hernia, where the upper portion of the stomach bulges or herniates upwards into the chest through an enlarged opening in the diaphragm. Diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that separates the chest from the abdominal cavity. Weak diaphragmatic musculature usually gives rise to a hiatus hernia. Hiatus hernia can also be congenital. It may occur in people who are into rigorous weight lifting, those with severe constipation or those with chronic cough. It is more common in elderly people and those suffering from obesity.
Symptoms of hiatus hernia can vary from having no symptoms at all, to severe acid reflux. Heartburn, acidity, difficulty in swallowing, vomiting, acid reflux etc are seen in patients with hiatus hernia and GERD. In severe cases of reflux, patients may also experience breathlessness and asthma like symptoms. At times, there may be ulcer formation which may lead to blood in vomiting or black coloured stools.
Dr Aparna Govil Bhasker, Bariatric and Advanced Laparoscopic Surgeon, Saifee, Apollo Spectra and Namaha Hospitals says that first line of treatment for hiatus hernia is through lifestyle and behaviour modification as well as medications.
Eating small frequent meals, non-spicy and less oily food, early dinner and sleeping with two pillows under the head are some of the conservative methods. Antacid medications help in some patients. Surgery is advised for patients who are not relieved despite being on medications for a long period, or those who are not able to stop medications or those who are developing complications like Barrette’s esophagus, asthma like symptoms or ulcer formation.
Hiatus hernia surgery is performed laparoscopically through key holes. 4-5 tiny cuts of about 0.5 to 1 cm are made in the abdomen and the entire surgery is performed through these. The surgery entails tightening of the valve and a wrap of the stomach. It usually takes about 60 to 90 minutes depending on the grade of difficulty of the surgery. Most patients are allowed to start taking oral diet after 6 hours and are discharged from the hospital the next morning. Patients are able to get back to work within a week’s time.
Hiatus hernia surgery or laparoscopic Nissen’s fundoplication is a surgical procedure performed for the treatment of Hiatus Hernia and GERD. Myths and fear of surgery sometimes lead to delay in treatment and may give rise to complications that could have been avoided. This surgery is generally safe and if you are detected with a hiatus hernia, please visit your surgeon for the right advice.