Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and hiatal hernia are two common gastrointestinal disorders that may often coexist simultaneously. While they are not the same condition, they can cause similar symptoms and also worsen each other’s effects.
What Is A Hiatal Hernia?
A hiatal hernia occurs when a portion of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm into the chest cavity. This can cause a range of symptoms, including acid reflux, which occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the oesophagus.
With a hiatal hernia, the protrusion of the stomach can weaken the lower oesophagal sphincter (LES). This is the ring of muscle that normally prevents stomach acid from flowing back into the oesophagus, making acid reflux more likely to occur.
Patients with frequent experiences of acid reflux are then diagnosed with GERD.
What Is GERD?
GERD is a chronic condition where stomach acid and other digestive juices flow back up into the oesophagus. This irritates the lining of the oesophagus, causing symptoms such as heartburn, regurgitation, and difficulty swallowing.
Does Hiatal Hernia Cause GERD?
A hiatal hernia does not directly cause GERD, but it can increase the risk of developing it. The stomach’s protrusion into the chest cavity can weaken the oesophagal sphincter and cause it to open and close abnormally. This allows stomach acid to reflux back up into the oesophagus, which then causes GERD symptoms.
On the other hand, GERD can also increase the risk of developing a hiatal hernia. With chronic acid reflux, the tissues in the oesophagal sphincter start to weaken. This weakening of the muscles increases the risk of a stomach protruding out, resulting in a hiatal hernia.
Therefore, both a hiatal hernia and GERD can increase the risk of each other, making it common to exist simultaneously.
Diagnosis: Is It Hiatal Hernia, GERD Or Both?
A medical history and physical examination can help diagnose hiatal hernia and GERD.
Tests like upper GI endoscopy, barium swallow, and pH monitoring can confirm the diagnosis of GERD and determine the severity of oesophageal damage caused by the condition. A hiatal hernia can also be diagnosed through a gastroscopy or an X-ray scan.
Treatment Options For Hiatal Hernia And GERD
Treatment options for hiatal hernia and GERD depend on the severity of symptoms and the extent of oesophageal damage.
Lifestyle changes such as avoiding foods that trigger symptoms, losing weight, and sleeping at a slight incline can help manage symptoms. Over-the-counter antacids can provide temporary relief, while prescription medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 blockers can reduce acid production in the stomach.
Surgery may be recommended for patients with severe symptoms or complications such as erosive esophagitis, Barrett’s oesophagus, or strictures. Nissen fundoplication surgery is a surgical option that can effectively treat both conditions and improve symptoms in patients who do not respond to other treatments.
What is Nissen Fundoplication Surgery?
Nissen fundoplication is a surgical procedure that involves wrapping the upper part of the stomach around the lower oesophagus to strengthen the oesophagal sphincter and prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the oesophagus. This procedure is performed under general anaesthesia and is a minimally invasive surgical option for treating GERD and hiatal hernia.
Nissen fundoplication surgery has a success rate of up to 90% in improving symptoms such as heartburn, regurgitation, and difficulty swallowing. Recovery time after the surgery varies, but most patients can resume normal activities within a few weeks.
GERD and hiatal hernia are two gastrointestinal disorders that can trigger the development of each other and coexist in the same patient. Nissen fundoplication surgery is a surgical option that can effectively treat both conditions and improve symptoms in patients who do not respond to lifestyle changes.
If you are looking for a trusted doctor to answer your questions about nissen fundoplication surgery, consider scheduling an assessment with our team to better understand your health. Contact us directly via WHATSAPP or call our CLINIC for assistance.