Hiatal Hernia And Heartburn – Where Lies The Connection?

If you’ve been sifting through info on GERD and heartburn for long, you must have come across the term ‘Hiatal Hernia’ more than once. Naturally, you must be wondering what’s the connection between hiatal hernia and heartburn. That’s what we address right here and now – its link with heartburn and hiatal hernia natural treatment.

You might already be aware of what’s heartburn, but still, for the sake of discussion, let’s just do a short recap—

What is heartburn?

Heartburn is one of the symptoms of GERD, or acid reflux – what happens is that due to various reasons, medical and otherwise, the stomach doesn’t produce enough acid to be able to digest the food. Naturally, digestion is compromised and as a result, the undigested food as well as the acid wants to come back up through the connector between the stomach and the mouth – the esophagus. Now the esophagus and the lower esophageal sphincter – the actual muscle that controls the passage of food down into the stomach – get weaker and weaker due to the stomach acid.

Result, the LES is unable to keep the acids and food contained in the stomach like it normally should – and you have heartburn. So basically, when you don’t treat GERD or chronic indigestion for a long time, it becomes severe enough to cause heartburn – a burning and often painful sensation in the region around the heart.

Photo Credit:en.wikipedia.org
Photo Credit:en.wikipedia.org

Now what is hiatal hernia and how does it figure in the situation we just described?

Remember, we told you that GERD can happen for various reasons – some of them medical?

Well, hiatal hernia is one such medical condition. What happens is that part of the stomach tends to bulge through the ‘hiatus’, the natural opening between the esophagus and the stomach. You’d be right if you guessed that this ‘hiatus’ is actually the LES –the natural opening in the diaphragm that lets the food you ingest pass down the food pipe down the esophagus and into the stomach.

Now when part of the stomach pushes back up into the diaphragm, the LES is naturally weakened and voila! You have the perfect conditions for constant acid reflux and heartburn.

Photo Credit:en.wikipedia.org
Photo Credit:en.wikipedia.org

Hiatal hernia can be of two types –

  • Sliding hiatal hernia where a small part of the stomach and esophagus pushes upward past the diaphragm
  • Paraesophageal hernia where a considerable part of the stomach pushes into the esophagus – landing them quite next to each other, with the LES hardly in control any longer

Now the major problem is that no one is really sure what causes hiatal hernia – but if it is diagnosed quite early on, then medication can control the situation. But when the situation worsens such that you have paraesophaeal hernia, surgery is the only solution.

However, the good news is that paraesophaeal hernia is rather rare – and with proper care of your digestive system – you can avoid these scenarios altogether. Not even hiatal hernia and heartburn will bother you much if you diagnose the problem early on and follow the treatment as well as make the necessary lifestyle changes …so the next time you find that you are suffering from constant and regular indigestion – get an appointment with the doctor ASAP.