10 Lifestyle Changes: Effective Hiatal Hernia Treatments

So you’ve been diagnosed with a hiatal hernia, and now you’re wondering what the best course of action is to alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Well, look no further because this article is here to help you! In this informative piece, we’ll explore some effective hiatal hernia treatments, with a particular focus on lifestyle changes, including dietary adjustments and weight loss. So whether you’re experiencing heartburn, regurgitation, or difficulty swallowing, grab a cup of tea, relax, and let’s dive into the world of hiatal hernia treatments together.

She is dedicated to a healthy lifestyle changes!
She is dedicated to a healthy lifestyle changes!

Lifestyle Changes: Medications


Antacids are a popular choice for managing the symptoms of hiatal hernia. They work by neutralizing the excess stomach acid that can cause heartburn and discomfort. These over-the-counter medications are readily available and provide quick relief for many people. Antacids usually come in the form of tablets or liquid and are taken after meals or at the onset of symptoms. While antacids are effective in the short term, they may not provide long-lasting relief for severe cases of hiatal hernia.

H2 receptor blockers

H2 receptor blockers, also known as H2 blockers, are another medication option for treating hiatal hernia. They work by reducing the production of stomach acid, thereby alleviating the symptoms associated with excess acid reflux. These medications are available both over-the-counter and by prescription, depending on the strength and dosage needed. H2 blockers are generally taken before meals to prevent the onset of symptoms. While they may not provide immediate relief, they can be useful for managing chronic symptoms in the long term.

Proton pump inhibitors

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are a more potent form of acid-suppressing medication. They work by blocking the production of stomach acid altogether, allowing the esophagus and stomach lining to heal from any damage caused by acid reflux. PPIs are available both over-the-counter and by prescription, with the prescription-strength options being more potent. These medications are typically taken once a day and provide long-lasting relief for the symptoms of hiatal hernia. However, like all medications, PPIs may have potential side effects and should be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Lifestyle Changes: Surgery

Nissen fundoplication

Nissen fundoplication is a surgical procedure performed to treat hiatal hernias that do not respond well to lifestyle changes or medications. During this procedure, the upper part of the stomach is wrapped around the lower portion of the esophagus to strengthen the valve between the stomach and esophagus, preventing acid reflux. This surgery is usually performed laparoscopically, which involves making small incisions in the abdomen and using a camera to guide the surgeon. Nissen fundoplication is an effective long-term solution for hiatal hernias, but it does carry risks and requires a period of recovery.

Laparoscopic hiatal hernia repair

Laparoscopic hiatal hernia repair is another surgical option for treating hiatal hernias. This minimally invasive procedure involves making small incisions in the abdomen and using a camera to guide the surgery. During the procedure, the herniated portion of the stomach is pulled back into the abdomen, and the opening in the diaphragm is repaired. This helps to prevent acid reflux and alleviate the associated symptoms. Laparoscopic hiatal hernia repair has a shorter recovery period compared to open surgery and can provide long-lasting relief for hiatal hernia symptoms.

Lifestyle Changes: Dietary changes

Avoiding trigger foods

Making dietary changes is an essential aspect of managing hiatal hernia symptoms. Certain foods and beverages can trigger acid reflux and worsen the symptoms associated with hiatal hernia. Common trigger foods include spicy foods, fatty or fried foods, citrus fruits and juices, tomato-based products, chocolate, and caffeine. It is important to identify your personal trigger foods and avoid consuming them to minimize acid reflux and discomfort. Instead, focus on incorporating foods that are gentle on the stomach, such as lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Eating smaller meals

Eating smaller, more frequent meals can help alleviate the symptoms of hiatal hernia. This approach prevents putting excessive pressure on the stomach and reduces the likelihood of acid reflux. By spacing out your meals throughout the day, you allow the stomach enough time to fully digest the food before consuming the next meal. It is also beneficial to eat slowly and chew food thoroughly to aid digestion and minimize the chances of acid reflux.

Avoiding lying down after eating

To prevent acid reflux, it is advised to avoid lying down immediately after eating. When you lie down, gravity can no longer help keep the stomach acid in its place, leading to increased acid reflux and discomfort. Aim to wait at least two to three hours after eating before lying down or going to bed. If you experience symptoms at night, try propping up the head of your bed with pillows or using a wedge-shaped pillow to elevate your upper body while you sleep.

Lifestyle Changes: Weight loss

Importance of weight management

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for managing hiatal hernia symptoms. Excess weight, especially around the abdominal area, puts additional pressure on the stomach and can contribute to acid reflux. Losing weight can help alleviate this pressure and reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms. Additionally, weight loss has numerous other health benefits, such as reducing the risk of other chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine a safe and effective weight loss plan tailored to your individual needs.

Diet and exercise for weight loss

A combination of a balanced diet and regular exercise is the foundation for successful weight loss. Focus on consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Limit the intake of processed foods, sugary drinks, and high-calorie snacks. Regular exercise is also essential for weight management and overall health. Engage in activities you enjoy, such as walking, swimming, or cycling, and aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Remember to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.

Lifestyle Changes: Posture and body mechanics

Maintaining good posture

Maintaining good posture can significantly reduce the discomfort associated with hiatal hernia. When you sit or stand, make an effort to align your spine, keep your shoulders relaxed, and avoid slouching. This allows for optimal alignment of the organs and prevents excessive pressure on the diaphragm. Practice becoming aware of your posture throughout the day and make adjustments when needed. Additionally, investing in an ergonomic chair or using a lumbar support cushion can help promote good posture and alleviate strain on the back and abdomen.

Using proper lifting techniques

Improper lifting techniques can put stress on the abdominal muscles and exacerbate hiatal hernia symptoms. When lifting heavy objects, it is important to use proper body mechanics to protect your back and abdomen. Bend at your knees and hips, not your waist, and lift with your legs rather than your back. Avoid lifting objects that are too heavy for you and ask for assistance when needed. If you must lift something heavy, consider using a lifting belt or brace to provide additional support to your abdominal area.

Lifestyle Changes: Physical therapy

Exercises to strengthen the diaphragm

Physical therapy can be beneficial for individuals with hiatal hernia by strengthening the diaphragm, a key muscle involved in breathing and maintaining proper alignment of the organs. Working with a physical therapist, they can develop a personalized exercise plan to target and strengthen the diaphragm muscles. Deep breathing exercises, diaphragmatic breathing techniques, and specific exercises designed to engage the diaphragm can all contribute to improved muscle tone and function. Regular practice of these exercises can help reduce symptoms and promote optimal diaphragm function.

Breathing techniques

Breathing techniques can be effective in managing hiatal hernia symptoms by helping to regulate breath patterns and reduce stress. Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing, involves breathing deeply into the abdomen rather than shallow chest breathing. This technique engages the diaphragm and promotes relaxation while minimizing the pressure on the stomach and esophagus. With the guidance of a healthcare professional or a certified breathing coach, individuals with hiatal hernia can learn and incorporate these techniques into their daily routine for symptom relief.

Alternative therapies


Acupuncture is an alternative therapy that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to promote healing and balance. Some individuals with hiatal hernia find acupuncture helpful in relieving symptoms such as acid reflux and discomfort. Acupuncture is believed to stimulate the flow of energy, or qi, in the body, restoring balance and reducing inflammation. While further research is needed to fully understand the effects of acupuncture on hiatal hernia symptoms, many people find it to be a valuable addition to their treatment plan.

Chiropractic adjustments

Chiropractic adjustments can provide relief for some individuals with hiatal hernia by helping to realign the spine and diaphragm. Chiropractors use gentle manipulation techniques to adjust the spine and promote optimal nerve function. By aligning the spine and diaphragm, chiropractic adjustments may reduce the pressure on the stomach and alleviate symptoms of acid reflux. If considering chiropractic care, it is important to consult with a licensed chiropractor who has experience working with individuals with hiatal hernia or digestive conditions.

Herbal remedies

Herbal remedies, such as chamomile tea, ginger, and slippery elm, have been used for centuries to promote digestive health and reduce symptoms of acid reflux. Chamomile tea is known for its calming effects on the stomach and can help soothe inflammation. Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties and can aid in digestion and reduce nausea. Slippery elm is a herb that forms a gel-like substance when mixed with water, helping to coat the esophagus and stomach lining, reducing irritation. While herbal remedies may provide some relief, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating them into your treatment plan, as they may interact with medications or have adverse effects for some individuals.

Lifestyle Changes: Stress management

Relaxation techniques

Practicing relaxation techniques can be beneficial for individuals with hiatal hernia, as stress and anxiety can exacerbate symptoms. Techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery can help reduce stress and promote overall well-being. Making time for regular relaxation exercises throughout the day can help manage the physical and emotional impact of hiatal hernia, leading to a reduction in symptoms and improved quality of life. Find the relaxation techniques that resonate with you and incorporate them into your daily routine.

Counseling or therapy

For some individuals, hiatal hernia can have a significant impact on their mental and emotional well-being. Seeking counseling or therapy can provide a safe space to explore and address the emotional aspects of living with a hiatal hernia. A mental health professional can help you develop coping strategies, manage stress, and work through any emotional challenges related to the condition. Additionally, participating in support groups or connecting with others who share similar experiences can provide a sense of community and understanding.

Lifestyle Changes: Avoiding certain habits

Smoking cessation

Smoking has detrimental effects on overall health, including the exacerbation of hiatal hernia symptoms. Smoking can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus more easily. Quitting smoking is beneficial not only for hiatal hernia management but also for improving overall health. If you are a smoker, consider reaching out to healthcare professionals for resources and support to quit this habit and reduce the impact of smoking on your hiatal hernia symptoms.

Limiting alcohol intake

Excessive alcohol consumption can worsen hiatal hernia symptoms by increasing stomach acid production and relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter. It is advisable to limit alcohol intake or avoid it altogether if you find that it triggers or worsens symptoms. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation and be mindful of the types of alcohol that may be more irritating to your digestive system. It is essential to listen to your body and adjust your alcohol consumption accordingly.

Lifestyle Changes: Regular check-ups

Follow-up appointments with healthcare provider

Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider are an important part of managing hiatal hernia. Following up with your healthcare provider allows them to monitor your condition, assess the effectiveness of the treatment plan, and make any necessary adjustments. Your healthcare provider may recommend specific tests or imaging to evaluate the status of your hiatal hernia and rule out any complications. It is vital to communicate any changes in symptoms or concerns with your healthcare provider during these follow-up appointments.

Monitoring symptoms and progress

In addition to regular check-ups, monitoring your symptoms and progress at home can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your treatment plan. Keep a journal to document any changes in symptoms, triggers, or patterns that emerge. This information can help you and your healthcare provider identify what strategies are working well and what adjustments might be needed. By actively monitoring your symptoms and progress, you become an active participant in the management of your hiatal hernia and can make informed decisions about your treatment.

In conclusion, managing hiatal hernia involves a combination of lifestyle changes, medication, and other treatment modalities to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life. With the guidance of healthcare professionals, individuals with hiatal hernia can develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses their specific needs and preferences. By implementing the strategies discussed in this article, individuals with hiatal hernia can take control of their condition and improve their overall well-being. Remember, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your treatment plan.

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