Hiatal Hernia Treatment in Dublin, GA
Dr. John Polhill is able to treat several different hernia types, including hiatal hernias. While most hernias affect the abdominal wall, a hiatal hernia forms specifically within the upper region of the stomach where the esophagus connects to the stomach to deliver vital nutrients from the foods we eat. This opening at the top of the stomach is known as the hiatus, hence the name of this particular hernia type.
Signs & Symptoms of a Hiatal Hernia
Many individuals can have a hiatal hernia without ever realizing it, as the condition does not always present significant symptoms. As the hernia grows larger, the occurrence of painful or problematic symptoms generally becomes more frequent. Such symptoms typically include:
- Shortness of breath
- Acid reflux
- Difficulty swallowing
- Regurgitation of food or drink
- Chest pain
Vomiting and dark colored stool may also occur as a result of a hiatal hernia, but these symptoms are usually only seen in much more severe cases. If the hernia has become obstructed or strangulated, it is absolutely critical that individuals seek medical care immediately to avoid cutting off the blood flow to these important tissues in the esophagus and stomach.
How a Hiatal Hernia Forms
As with any type of hernia, significant strain on the body can lead to the development of weak spots in various tissues that are prone to injury. This is especially true for individuals who repeatedly subject their stomach muscles to intense activities such as coughing, heavy lifting, vomiting, or strenuous bowel movements. Excess weight on the body can make these situations, along with everyday habits, much more taxing on the body.
There are also a number of uncontrollable factors that can contribute to a person’s potential to develop a hiatal hernia. Some individuals are simply born with a large hiatus, and gradual increases in age can also contribute to a higher risk of herniation in this area of the body.
The Two Types of Hiatal Hernias
During a diagnostic evaluation with Dr. Polhill, patients will learn whether they have experienced a sliding hiatal hernia, or a fixed hiatal hernia. A large majority of cases are determined to be sliding hiatal hernias, which occur when the stomach and esophagus bulge inward and outward through the hiatus as they move. Individuals with a fixed hiatal hernia will experience a part of their stomach bulging through the diaphragm and remaining stuck into place.
Most hiatal hernias will be diagnosed using a barium X-ray, or an endoscopy. Viable treatment options recommended by Dr. Polhill depend heavily upon the amount of damage seen during these tests and procedures.
Medications can be quite helpful in managing symptoms caused by a hiatal hernia. For example, acid reflux can often be reduced by taking easily available over-the-counter antacids. Not every person will require treatment for their hiatal hernia, but those who have or are likely to suffer severe complications are often advised to surgically repair the hiatus.
Surgical Hiatal Hernia Repair in Dublin, GA
Surgery to correct a hiatal hernia may be performed as a traditional open surgery, or laparoscopically. While both options present favorable success rates, laparoscopic surgery is associated with several noteworthy benefits such as a reduced risk for potential complications, as well as a shorter recovery period.
Even after surgery, there is a chance for a hiatal hernia to return, which is why patients should take special care to avoid strenuous activity, maintain a healthy weight, and eat more mild foods that are less likely to irritate the stomach or esophagus.
To speak with an experienced hernia surgeon about your treatment options, please contact Southern Surgical at (478) 275-2454 to schedule your appointment today!