Hiatal Hernia - Topic Overview
How is a hiatal hernia diagnosed?
A hiatal hernia
often is diagnosed when you see your doctor or have tests for another health
If you have symptoms, your doctor will ask you questions
about them. If your symptoms happen often and are severe, you may have
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If this is the case, your doctor may do
more tests or give you medicine for GERD.
How is it treated?
If you have no symptoms, you don't need treatment.
If you have mild symptoms, your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes and
nonprescription medicines. Here are some things to try:
- Change your eating habits.
- It’s best to eat several small meals
instead of two or three large meals.
- After you eat, wait 2 to 3
hours before you lie down. Late-night snacks aren't a good
- Chocolate, mint, and alcohol can make GERD worse. They relax
the valve between the esophagus and the stomach.
- Spicy foods, foods
that have a lot of acid (like tomatoes and oranges), and coffee can make GERD
symptoms worse in some people. If your symptoms are worse after you eat a
certain food, you may want to stop eating that food to see if your symptoms get
- Do not smoke or chew tobacco.
you get heartburn at night, raise the head of your bed
6 in. (15 cm) to
8 in. (20 cm) by putting the
frame on blocks or placing a foam wedge under the head of your mattress.
(Adding extra pillows does not work.)
- Do not wear tight clothing
around your middle.
- Lose weight if you need to. Losing just 5 to 10 pounds can
If you often have symptoms or have severe symptoms, you may have GERD. Lifestyle changes may help, and your doctor
may prescribe medicine. In severe cases, surgery can be used to pull the hernia
back into the belly.