Hiatal Hernia Treatments

When hiatal hernia symptoms are mild, they can be treated with dietary and lifestyle changes:

  • Dietary changes: 
    • Eat slowly and chew thoroughly
    • Avoid alcohol and foods that cause GERD, including greasy and fatty foods, spicy foods, chocolate, tobacco and caffeine
  • Lifestyle changes:
    • Stay upright after meals
    • Raise the head of your bed
    • Lose weight, if you are overweight, to reduce pressure on your abdomen
    • Avoid tight-fitting clothing
    • Quit smoking
  • Medications: Over-the-counter antacids and proton pump inhibitors can control the painful symptoms of acid reflux.

When symptoms are severe or acid reflux is causing damage to the lining of the esophagus, surgery may be recommended. Surgery for a hiatal hernia may involve three different approaches:

  • Retracting the stomach back into your abdomen and making the hiatis (opening in your diaphragm) smaller
  • Reconstructing the esophageal sphincter (the muscular valve that connects the esophagus to the stomach)
  • Removing just the hernia

This surgery may be open (making a single, larger incision in your chest) or performed using a laparoscope (a thin, lighted tube inserted into the body through tiny incisions in the abdomen).