Hiatal Hernia Chest Pain Location After Eating and While Running

Hiatal Hernia Chest Pain

A hiatal hernia is a condition in which part of the stomach slips through the opening in the diaphragm where the esophagus runs. Many people have no symptoms as a result of the condition; however others have found that a hiatal hernia and GERD go hand in hand. This is because the sphincter that is supposed to help keep acid from moving upwards into the esophagus can become damaged or weakened when a hernia is present and therefore less able to do its job. Unfortunately, this can result in hiatal hernia chest pain symptoms. These symptoms are related to heartburn and are commonly triggered by foods. However, sometimes physical activity can also bring about painful symptoms as well. It is important to remember that there is absolutely no way to distinguish hiatal hernia chest pain from that of a heart attack, and this can create a dangerous situation. All chest pain should be treated as a medical emergency, and prompt medical attention is required.

The problem is that hiatal hernia pain symptoms occur in the upper central part of the chest. This is because this is where the esophagus is, and when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, that is where the pain persists. For some people, the sensations feel more like burning. For others, hiatal hernia chest pain does not come with burning, rather sharp or stabbing pains which explains why it can commonly be mistaken for a heart attack.

Exercise therefore can be a double edged sword, particularly with regards running or overly vigorous exercise. Since stress can trigger GERD related symptoms, healthy physical activity (which has been shown to reduce stress) might offer some relief. However, certain types of physical activity can also bring about hiatal hernia symptoms too, and the reason has simply to do with physics. Whilst running, stomach acids are being swished and sloshed about. They can much more easily make their way to the displaced sphincter that is supposed to protect the esophagus from them. The up and down motions that occur while running mean that once past this protective sphincter, the acids are free to slosh up and down the esophagus, creating irritation and inflammation almost instantly and of course hiatal hernia chest pain as a result. This can occur whether or not a meal was eaten before exercise, as stomach acid is almost always present, although its volume varies depending on dietary intake.

Speaking of dietary intake, it is not unusual for people to also encounter hiatal hernia chest pain following a meal, even when no physical activity follows. This might have a lot to do with the type of foods eaten and in what quantity. Some foods, like citrus fruits, can ramp up stomach acid production. The increased volume can make backups more likely. In addition, very large meals take more effort to digest, and the body may create more acid in response. In both cases, more acid means that backups are more likely.

There are options for treating the symptoms associated with a hiatal hernia that many people consider, especially if symptoms are persistent. Some start with dietary changes such as reducing spicy, fried, fatty, sugary and carbonated foods and adding in whole grains, low acid produce and fat free dairy. Others may turn to hiatal hernia natural treatment options like herbal remedies, essential oils and lifestyle changes like changing sleeping position. However, the most common type of treatment for the condition is the use of hiatal hernia medications. It is important to remember that these medications (proton pump inhibitors and H2 receptor blockers, typically) do not actually treat the condition itself, rather, its symptoms. They reduce the amount of acid found in the stomach which can lead to fewer acid backups and therefore less common bouts of hiatal hernia chest pain and related symptoms.

In most cases, the use of medications combined with dietary considerations and lifestyle remedies is enough to reduce or even eliminate the symptoms associated with a hiatal hernia and their tendency to appear after eating or during vigorous exercise like running. However, this is not always the case; especially if the hernia is large, complicated or otherwise different from small and common hernias. When a hiatal hernia is large or runs alongside the esophagus (called a paraesophageal hernia) symptoms such as hiatal hernia chest pain may be present more often, or be more severe. In these cases, it is not uncommon for a surgical hiatal hernia repair to be necessary. During these procedures, a surgeon pushes the stomach back into place and repairs the hiatus if necessary to ensure that the hernia does not occur again. Further surgeries may be necessary in the case of severe complications, up to and including the strangulation of the stomach which means that the blood supply is at risk of becoming or has become completely cut off.

Hiatal hernia chest pain can mimic a heart attack and severe symptoms should still be considered a medical emergency. These symptoms can become evident at any time, but are common following a meal or while exercising. Medical care is important for people with a hiatal hernia so that complications can be identified and symptoms can be treated. Day to day management of symptoms can be achieved by using medications or natural healing alternatives, eating small meals, sleeping while elevated, exercising less vigorously, and staying hydrated.

References:
http://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/features/workouts-without-heartburn
http://www.nytimes.com/1989/07/06/us/study-says-running-can-cause-heartburn.html