Hernia - Treatment

Once an abdominal hernia occurs, it tends to increase in size. Some patients with an abdominal hernia decide not to seek treatment right away. They may try to keep the hernia under control with a truss. A truss is a support garment worn like a belt. It helps keep the hernia from protruding. People with hernias must avoid strenuous activity, such as heavy lifting or straining themselves.

Constant pain, nausea, and vomiting are signs that the hernia has become worse. The patient may notice that the hernia can no longer be pushed back into place. In such cases, medical help should be sought. Surgery will probably be necessary.

The surgical treatment for hernia is relatively simple. The hernia is pushed back into the abdominal cavity. The muscle lying on top of the hernia is then sewed back into place. If necessary, additional support may be added to keep the hernia in place.

If a hernia is not treated, severe complications can result. Part of the intestine can become trapped outside the muscles of the abdomen. A blockage in the intestine may develop. In the worst cases, this blockage can cut off the blood supply to the intestine. Part of the intestine may actually die.

A hiatal hernia is treated differently. Surgery is recommended only as a last resort. Instead, changes in the patient's lifestyle are recommended. Some of these changes are:

  • Avoiding lying down after meals
  • Avoiding spicy or acidic foods, alcohol, and tobacco
  • Eating small, frequent, bland meals
  • Eating a high-fiber diet

Several medications can also help relieve the symptoms of a hiatal hernia. For example, antacids are used to neutralize stomach acid and decrease heartburn. Drugs are also available to reduce the amount of stomach acid produced. A third option is a group of drugs that makes the muscles around the esophagus work more efficiently. The stomach empties faster and there is less chance of heartburn.

Alternative Treatment

Alternative practitioners often recommend changes similar to those listed above. In the case of a hiatal hernia, they may also suggest the use of visceral manipulation. Visceral manipulation is a method for returning the stomach to its proper position. Natural products are sometimes recommended for hiatal hernias too. For example, the natural product called deglycyrrhizinated licorice is thought to help reduce the effects of stomach acid.

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