Hiatal Hernia Pain When Swallowing, Bending Over and Lying Down

Hiatal Hernia Pain

In order to understand hiatal hernia pain, one must first understand what a hiatal hernia is and why some people have symptoms and others do not. A hiatal hernia is a condition in which part or a section of the stomach becomes displaced and is either pushed or forced through an opening in the diaphragm called the hiatus. For many people, small hiatal hernias do not produce any symptoms at all. Yet for others, acid reflux related symptoms may be present. There is no definitive answer as to why many people with hiatal hernias have GERD related symptoms. What is clear, however, is that almost always, hiatal hernia pain symptoms are a direct result of stomach acid, and not a result of the hernia itself (although it is important to remember that in rare cases, hiatal hernia pain may be serious and a result of a loss of blood supply to the stomach, which is considered an emergency).

Symptoms may vary from one person to another. Some individuals may experience hiatal hernia pain as a result of heartburn or acid reflux. This is the most common symptom and is caused by stomach acid backing up into the esophagus. Because most hernias result in the valve between the stomach and esophagus being displaced to above the chest cavity separating diaphragm, it is much easier for stomach acid to back up into the esophagus in individuals who have this simple type of hernia. It also explains why hiatal hernia pain can be much more intense when sufferers lie down, bend over or swallow.

The stomach’s lining is more than adequate at serving as a protective barrier between sensitive tissue and corrosive stomach acid. Unfortunately, the delicate esophagus is not so lined. So, when volatile stomach juices back up, it can quickly become irritated and inflamed. Because swallowing is a complicated physiological process, (that we often take for granted because it is so natural) an inflamed or swollen esophagus as a result of stomach acid can be very painful, and it can be more difficult for food and liquid to pass easily. When hiatal hernia pain presents while swallowing, it is most likely because stomach acid has irritated the sensitive lining of the esophagus.

This same process is essentially also why bending over and lying down can bring about quick and intense bouts of hiatal hernia pain. It is also sometimes the underlying cause behind the discomfort that makes the condition a phenomenal imitator of serious problems like a heart attack. Stomach acid can cause quick bursts of hiatal hernia chest pain, and the reason has to do simply with gravity. If stomach acid has made its way into the esophagus, lying down or bending over can allow it to flow freely upward, in the direction it certainly does not need to go. This can cause a very rapid irritation of the esophagus, which is found centrally in the chest, and intense burning and pain can result.

Stomach acid is behind most causes of hiatal hernia pain, which is why medications that are designed to reduce the amount of acid in the stomach are the most common type of treatment for hiatal hernia in people who are exhibiting symptoms. Medications like proton pump inhibitors and H2 receptor blockers can be very effective at reducing the amount of stomach acid the body produces, which can in turn prevent backups into the esophagus simply by reducing the available volume. However, some of these medications may come with side effects, although they are prescribed because their benefit outweighs their risk to the affected individual.

In cases where medicines are undesirable or unsafe, there are other hiatal hernia remedies that can be considered. Surprisingly enough, one of the easiest ways to prevent hiatal hernia pain as a result of stomach acid relates to simple dietary changes. Although food is not considered among hiatal hernia causes, (pressure, injury, coughing and intense bowel movements are the biggest culprits) it is considered a symptom trigger of hiatal hernia pain in persons who exhibit symptoms of the condition. Eating spicy, fatty, greasy, fried, sugary or carbonated foods can increase stomach acid production and make esophageal backups more likely. Therefore, dietary changes can be considered a simple and effective form of hiatal hernia treatment. Other types of hiatal hernia remedies include herbal teas, essential oils, acupuncture, yoga and physical activity.

Hiatal hernia pain is almost always related to stomach acid. Because of gravity, this acid can flow freely where it does not belong when bending over or lying down. The resulting irritation can make swallowing difficult or even painful. Controlling stomach acid either with medications or other remedies can significantly reduce the recurrence of this acidic production. And, regular health care visits for monitoring and advice are critical to successfully living symptom free with a hiatal hernia.