In this article:
While there are surgical options to treat a hiatal hernia, there are also several home remedies that can help in managing symptoms and improving quality of life.
This article will explore some of these home remedies and the ways you can use them to find relief.
Ways to Relieve Hiatal Hernia Symptoms
Several home remedies may help relieve the symptoms of a hiatal hernia, such as heartburn and acid reflux.
1. Avoiding trigger foods
Certain foods can trigger and aggravate heartburn and acid reflux, such as fatty foods, caffeine, chocolate, spicy foods, citrus fruits, and tomatoes. You may determine your trigger foods and avoid them by keeping a food diary.
Avoiding these trigger foods can help to alleviate symptoms and prevent further damage to the esophagus.
Moreover, maintain a homemade, bland diet free of excessive spices or condiments. You can include a variety of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables. (1)
2. Eating smaller meals
If you have a hiatal hernia, you may find that eating smaller meals more frequently helps to reduce your symptoms. Avoid large meals, spicy or fatty foods, caffeine, and alcohol. These can all trigger symptoms of a hiatal hernia.
Instead, focus on eating small, frequent meals that are easy to digest.
Eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day can help reduce the amount of stomach acid that is produced. This is because large meals can put pressure on the opening in your diaphragm, which can trigger symptoms such as heartburn and chest pain.
Eating several small meals throughout the day can help keep your stomach contents from getting too full and putting pressure on your hernia.
It’s also important to avoid eating late at night. This allows your stomach to empty more slowly, which can help reduce the reflux of acid into your esophagus.
3. Avoiding lying down after eating
Lying down immediately after eating can allow stomach acid to flow. Sleep with your head elevated. This will help to prevent stomach acid from flowing back up into your esophagus while you are asleep. (4)
You can prop up your head with pillows or use a specialized wedge pillow. In addition, prop yourself up with pillows when you sleep so that your head and chest are above your stomach.
Elevating the head of your bed by 6–8 inches (15–20 cm) by placing a block under the bed frame or by sleeping on a wedge pillow will help prevent acid reflux.
4. Relieving stress
There are a number of ways to relieve stress. For those suffering from a hiatal hernia, it is important to find ways to manage and reduce stress to prevent further complications.
- One of the best ways to relieve stress and tension in the chest is to practice deep breathing exercises. Start by inhaling slowly and deeply, filling your lungs as much as possible. Then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat 10 times or as often as needed to feel relief.
- Progressive muscular relaxation is an additional helpful stress-relieving approach. Start by tensing the muscles in your toes for 5 seconds and then releasing them. Work your way up your body, tensing and relaxing each muscle group for 5 seconds before moving on to the next. This simple exercise can help to reduce overall muscle tension and ease chest pain associated with a hiatal hernia. (5)
- Gentle yoga may be beneficial. However, check with your doctor to ensure that you are not doing any exercises or poses that could worsen your condition. (6)
- Other relaxation techniques to help you cope with stress include meditation and visualization or guided imagery. (7)(8)
5. Do self-massage
The symptoms of a hiatal hernia can be relieved with an easy self-massage. This not only strengthens the abdominal muscles but also aids in easing the discomfort and hernia symptoms. (9)
The herniated area can be self-massaged twice a day.
To massage the hernia properly, do as follows:
- Exhale and lie on your back.
- With your fingertips, locate your rib cage right below the breastbones.
- Slowly press down toward the belly button in that direction.
- Massage the area for at least 5 minutes. (9)
Most-Asked Questions About Hiatal Hernia
I have chronic acidity. Do I have a hiatal hernia?
Not necessarily. However, if you have been suffering for a while, you should definitely visit a doctor or a specialist to diagnose the root cause of your acidity.
If indeed you are in the initial stages of a hernia, it is better to get treated sooner rather than later.
Which exercise should I avoid doing if I have a hiatal hernia?
Exercises that increase intra-abdominal pressure — heavy squats, push-ups, crunches, etc. – are better to be avoided. Any heavy load lifting increases intra-abdominal pressure, and this may aggravate symptoms.
Always check with your doctor about your exercise plan if you have a medical condition.
Can I self-diagnose a hiatal hernia?
The easiest way to check for the presence of a hiatal hernia is to place your fingers on the upper belly just below the sternum. Take a deep inhalation and feel if your abs expand.
Are there any further classifications of hernia?
Based on the general types of hernia given in the overview of this article, hernias can be classified into the following:
- Reducible – This hernia enables the intra-abdominal placement of substances through the layers of the abdominal wall.
- Irreducible – If the contents of the hernia are unable to be reduced, the hernia is considered incarcerated/nonreducible/irreducible).
- Obstructed – Sometimes, the hernia sac becomes constricted and may, for instance, trap parts of the bowel.
- Strangulated – A strangulated hernia occurs when the hernia contents are deprived of oxygen due to a compromised blood supply. (10)(11)
- Inflamed – An inflamed hernia occurs when the tissue or organs that have protruded through a weak point in the muscle wall become swollen or irritated. (11)
I am a regular yoga practitioner. Can I continue to practice yoga?
You may practice simple asanas with your doctor’s approval. You can continue practicing pranayama as that is very effective at relieving stress and will improve your quality of life.
What are some lifestyle changes I can incorporate until and after my surgery?
You can reduce the severity of your symptoms by making some of the following lifestyle changes:
- Keeping your weight at a healthy level
- Reducing the size of your meal portions
- Avoiding some acidic foods that may irritate the esophageal lining, such as tomato sauce and citrus fruits or drinks
- Cutting back on foods such as chocolate, peppermint, carbonated drinks, alcoholic beverages, ketchup, mustard, and vinegar, as well as fried and fatty meals
- Avoiding bedtime snacks and eating meals at least a few hours before going to sleep
While home remedies can alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life, it is important to note that this condition requires medical intervention.
An early diagnosis and treatment protocol, when followed properly, can prevent further complications and can ensure that the hiatal hernia is managed well.