Living With A Hernia

Important Tips for Living with a Hernia

If you have a hernia, it is essential that you learn the best ways of living with a hernia to be comfortable but also to avoid making the problem worse.  A hernia affects the upper portion of the stomach and depending on the type of hernia, you would experience a slightly different problem and set of side effects.

The first thing you need to know when living with a hernia is the type of hernia you have, which can only be identified by going to the doctor.  After careful examination and running tests, the hernia would be confirmed and from there, proper treatment offered.  The two types of hernias include the Hiatal Hernia and Para-esophageal Hernia.

For the first type of hernia, the upper part of the stomach pushes through the diaphragm and into the chest whereas with the second type of hernia, the gastro-esophageal junction does not move although a portion of the stomach is squeezed up into the chest near the esophagus.  Of the two, this is the more concerning hernia in that if the hernia were to become strangled, adequate blood supply is not provided and tissue would die.  Of all hernias, approximately 90% are the Hiatal Hernia type.

When it comes to a hernia, you should also understand the various causes.  Obviously, if you were not currently living with a hernia, this information would show the things to avoid so a hernia does not develop but if you were living with a hernia, the information would help so the condition is not worsened.  While controversy surrounds the actual cause, most medical experts believe a hernia is the result of physical strain, age, and smoking.  Other possibilities include:

  • Tight clothing around the midsection
  • Pregnancy
  • Injury of the abdominal area
  • Straining from constipation
  • Severe vomiting

Living with a hernia also means experiencing different symptoms, which are seen in about 50% of cases.  Interestingly, while some symptoms are associated directly to the pressure or the hole created, most often, people living with a hernia have discomfort or pain directly relating to acid reflux that increases within the esophagus.  The most common symptoms associated with a Hiatal Hernia include the following:

  • Heartburn – This is usually much worse when lying down or bending over
  • Regurgitation – With this, stomach contents come back up into the back of the throat, which burns
  • Vomiting – This could be minor from regurgitation or full-blown vomiting
  • Gastric Reflux – This involves the stomach contents backing up into the esophagus
  • Bitterness – Sometimes, a strange bitter taste is noticed in the mouth
  • Belching and Hiccupping – While the least common symptoms seen in people living with a hernia, these can occur

Then for the second type, Para-esophageal Hernia, infrequent symptoms may also be seen, which include:

  • Nausea and Retching – If you had recently eaten, this would be worse
  • Chest Pain – With this, pain would radiate just below the sternum
  • Pressure – If you are living with a hernia, you may also experience chest pressure
  • Bloating and Gas – Again, this would be worse after eating
  • Abdominal Pain – While feeling discomfort, pain, or a feeling of being bloated is relatively common, it would be more pronounced after eating

Although living with a hernia is nothing fun, you can make a few lifestyle changes to help.  For instance, eat five to six small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals, stay away from foods that cause problems of acid reflux, never eat within four hours of going to bed, and make sure clothing is not tight around the midsection. 

Additionally, living with a hernia can be improved by avoiding constipation, losing weight, stopping smoking, and following your doctor’s orders regarding medication.  Keep in mind that if living with a hernia becomes much too difficult to manage or the hole is significant, you may need to have surgery so the damaged area can be corrected.