Hiatal hernia is a condition in which a part of the stomach is displaced or extended through an opening in the diaphragm (the diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that divides the chest from the abdomen) into the chest cavity.
Hiatal hernia is common among elderly people (people above the age of 50) and obese people.
The exact cause of hiatal hernia is unknown. However, having weak supportive tissues can be a major factor.
Other factors that can increase the likelihood of having hiatal hernia include; being born with large hiatus (diaphragm cavity), poor posture especially while sitting, age-related changes in the diaphragm, increased pressure to the stomach and surrounding muscle, as well as smoking of cigarettes.
Hiatal hernia could lead to reflux/backflow of gastric acid from the stomach to the esophagus.
Symptoms of hiatal hernia include; swallowing difficulty, chest pain, and heartburn. It is worthy of note that a hiatal hernia rarely causes symptoms itself. The symptoms arise from the backflow of stomach acid, air, and bile.
Here are some tips and good practices, to consider, if you are dealing with a hiatal hernia or its symptoms;
- Avoid lying down or bending down immediately after eating.
- Try not to forcefully strain during bowel movement.
- Strive to have your dinner at least 2 or 3 hours before bedtime.
- If you are overweight or obese, strive to lose the excess weight.
- Avoid wearing tight clothes especially around your torso. Opt for loose, comfortable clothes instead.
- You could elevate your head while you sleep to help minimize incidences of heartburn and increased acidity.
- Opt for several smaller meals instead of few large meals throughout the day.
- Avoid smoking cigarette and consuming alcohol.
Below are home remedies and natural ways to help relieve hiatal hernia and its symptoms;
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
One of the most effective remedies for a hiatal hernia is apple cider vinegar. It relieves the heartburn associated with the condition by combatting the acidity. Take a glassful of warm water and add 1-2 tsp of ACV in it. Mix well and drink it before meals. Do this remedy whenever you experience a heartburn.
2. Yoga (Chair Pose)
Yoga is an effective remedy for a hiatal hernia. It may relieve the symptoms naturally. A very effective yoga pose for hiatal hernia is called the chair pose. Start by standing straight with your arms extended in front of your face. Now, raise your arms slowly above the head and bend your body at an angle of 45 degrees forward. Your chest will come near to your thighs at this position. Make sure you keep your arm aligned straight with your back and palm turning towards the floor. Now bend your knees in a gentle way to pretend sitting on a chair. Look forward while pressing your body weight towards the ground.
Take a deep breath and hold on this position for some seconds. Then, draw your abdomen in while pressing your shoulder back and lowering your tailbone towards the ground. Stay in this position for half a minute and come back to the initial straight standing position in a slow motion.
Do this for a few more times to reap the benefits. Other poses that are helpful in combating hiatal hernia are Raised leg pose and wind relieving pose. However, avoid doing poses such as Bow, Bridge and Cobra pose as it may add excessive pressure to your abdomen which could exacerbate hiatal hernia symptoms.
3. The Warm Water Fix
This remedy is widely used to deal with a hiatal hernia. It helps in bringing the protrusion of the stomach down the diaphragm, thus, relieving the condition.
All you have to do is drink a glassful of warm water first thing in the morning, before getting out of bed. Then, stand up slowly and extend your hands in front of your face. Bend your elbows so that they are touching your chest. This would have a stretching action on the diaphragm which in turn will open up a gap or hiatus.
Slowly, stand on your toes and drop your heels quickly. Do it a few times. The weight of the water will pull the stomach down. While you are still in the standing position take a few quick breaths with the help of your mouth for about 15 seconds. It will tighten the diaphragm and close the hiatus.
4. Lose Weight
Obesity may greatly contribute to the development of a hiatal hernia. Therefore, losing some weight may help in preventing as well as treating the condition. Start by light exercises and make dietary changes to attain an ideal body weight. You may take help from a nutritionist or a dietician to do it in the right way.
Massaging your abdominal area may help in strengthening the muscles while reducing the symptoms. Start by lying down on a flat surface with your face up. Locate your breastbone and place your fingers just below it. While applying a little pressure, move your fingers towards the belly button. Do this for 5 minutes twice every day to get rid of the symptoms of a hiatal hernia.
Chamomile has a powerful anti-inflammatory action which makes it a great remedy for hiatal hernia. Chamomile also relaxes the stressed muscles of the digestive tract, thus, treating heartburn while reducing the pain. For this remedy, pour some hot water in a cup and add a teaspoon of chamomile (dried) to it. Cover it and let it steep for 5 minutes. Then, strain the solution and add a small amount of honey to it. Sip it slowly and repeat the remedy 3-4 times in a day.
7. Aloe Vera
Most digestive problems can be readily relieved by the healing action of aloe vera. Aloe vera not only treats heartburn but also reduces inflammation. All you have to do is consume a quarter cup of its juice 18-20 minutes before having your meals. Make sure you prepare the juice with no more than 2 tablespoons of the aloe gel. A quantity more than this might lead to diarrhea.
It is important to stay active to prevent a hiatal hernia, especially after having your meals. Sitting in the wrong position, bending and lying down on the bed immediately after meals may worsen your condition. It is best to go for a short walk to improve your digestion and ease the symptoms.
9. Avoid Foods That Cause Heartburn
Eating certain foods may increase the acidity in your stomach leading to digestive issues. It is important to steer clear of such foods to alleviate the symptoms of hiatal hernia. Foods that you should not consume are citrus fruits, tomato based-foods, onions, garlic, chocolates, and caffeine. Also stay away from spicy and oily foods as such foods may stress out your digestive tract.
Cinnamon is often used as a natural antacid which works by reducing the acidity present in your stomach after having a meal. Cinnamon also reduces pain and bloating in the abdominal area. Take a cup full of hot water and add half a teaspoon of powdered cinnamon to it. Put a lid on it and let it steep for 5 minutes. Drink the warm tea twice or thrice in a day. Also, use adequate amounts of cinnamon in cooking to maintain a better digestion.
11. Fruits And Vegetables
Including more fruits and vegetables in your diet may help you attain an overall better health which will alleviate the condition naturally. Fruits and vegetables have less fat and more fibers that help in losing weight. Besides, they contain antioxidants that have a healing action on your body. So give away the processed foods and fill your pantry with fresh and nutritional vegetables and fruits.
12. Baking Soda
One of the biggest properties of baking soda is reducing the acidity in the stomach which may help in relieving a heartburn. For this remedy, simply mix half a tablespoon of baking soda in a glassful of water and consume it immediately. You may do this remedy as needed, however, it is recommended to avoid its excess use. Do not consume baking soda if you suffer from high blood pressure.
13. Slippery Elm
Another great remedy for a hiatal hernia is slippery elm. It combats the stomach acidity and relieves heartburn effectively. It also fights inflammation and has a soothing effect on the body. Take a tablespoon of the bark of slippery elm and add it to a cup of hot water. Steep it for 10-12 minutes and consume it twice every day to get rid of hiatal hernia symptoms.
14. Wear Proper Clothes
Tight and body-hugging clothes may cause discomfort in the abdominal region and aggravate the symptoms of hiatal hernia. Therefore, always wear loose-fitting clothes especially near your torso to reduce the discomfort associated with a hiatal hernia.
15. Avoid Eating Large Meals
Eating a few large meals at a time may aggravate your condition and cause severe heartburn. If you have hiatal hernia, it is preferable to eat many small meals, instead of a large one. This would naturally reduce acidity and ease the digestive tract. Furthermore, never have dinner near to your bedtime. Make sure you eat your meal 2-3 hours before bedtime.
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