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Over-the-counter or prescription-strength medications treat stomach acid production, helping to minimize acid reflux symptoms caused by a hiatal hernia. Antacids and H-2 receptor blockers help to alleviate heartburn and acid reflux. Proton pump inhibitors (lansoprazole or omeprazole) block the amount of acid produced in the stomach, giving the esophagus time to heal. Medications are an effective treatment for hiatal hernia symptoms, helping to reducing the need for surgery.
Most hiatal hernias require little or no treatment, and are typically found incidentally at the time of an upper endoscopy (EGD) to evaluate acid reflux. Hiatal hernias predispose patients to heartburn (acid reflux) as hernias disrupt the normal connection between the swallowing tube (esophagus) and the stomach. A majority of patients with hiatal hernias respond well to medications used to treat acid reflux by blocking the production of stomach acid. Large hiatal hernias can cause patients to have difficulty swallowing, low blood counts, or uncontrollable reflux, and consequently, may need to be surgically corrected, usually through a laparoscopic approach.
A hiatal hernia is a condition in which the upper part of the stomach bulges through an opening in the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the muscle wall that separates the stomach from the chest. The diaphragm helps keep acid from coming up into the esophagus. A hiatal hernia makes it easier for the acid to come up, causing gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). Hiatal hernias are common, especially in people over 50. Most cases are treated with lifestyle modification and medication. Sometimes, laparoscopic surgery is needed to reduce the hernia.
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