Having any surgical procedure can be stressful and there is always a period of recovery that one must go through afterwards. However, when the surgery involves area of the stomach, the recovery process could be a little more in depth. After all, not all surgeries will have an effect on the way you eat for weeks or months at a time. There are several things you should know about in regards to your recovery after a Hiatal hernia repair surgery.
As mentioned earlier, you are going to be sent home with a number of diet limitations. This does not mean restrictions as there is a major difference. It is not that you will have to watch what you eat, it is that you will have to watch the way you eat it. For example, you will be instructed to take small bites and chew each one thoroughly before swallowing. The idea here is to make sure your food is almost fully liquid before swallowing it. Some people prefer to eat soup and other soft foods for a few days. Remember that bread and meat will be the hardest to swallow so maybe stay away from them for at least a week or so. Also, it cannot be stressed enough that spicy foods and foods that are known to produce gas such as beans should be avoided for quite awhile. Do not drink carbonated drinks until your doctor has instructed you that it is alright to do so.
This cannot be stressed enough. More than likely you will be sent home with pain medications. Do not be afraid to use these as necessary. If you find that one of your medications is making you feel sick to your stomach, which can easily happen with pain meds, report this to your doctor and see about an alternate drug. If you doctor permits it you may be able to take a nice warm shower in order to relax you and make you feel better. Keep in mind that this may not be allowed for several days after surgery. You may expect to feel a bit of discomfort for a good 3 to 6 months following your surgery but do not worry as the severity and frequency will minimize with time.
Take Care of Your Lungs
After a surgical procedure one of the things that you must consider is the health and function of your lungs. Making sure you do breathing exercises during your recovery time will help prevent the possibility of pneumonia or lung congestion. In fact, lung disorders and illnesses tend to me the most common after effects of surgeries of all types so do not slack where this is concerned. Chances are you’ve been given a spirometer, use it a minimum of 4 times per day in the beginning. If you do notice any lung congestion, a tight and painful cough or spike a fever, contact your doctor right away.
Do Not Worry About Appetite
You may not feel like eating much of anything directly following this surgical procedure and that is fine for a couple of days. However, if after 48 hours you still have not developed an appetite contact your doctor as you need to eat in order for your body to get the sustenance it needs for the healing process. If you cannot eat solid foods then try drinking meal replacement shakes as these provide nutrition and act more like a beverage, making it easier for people to tolerate.
The most important consideration after a surgery is always going to be infection. If you notice redness, swelling or heat coming from the site then you should seek medical attention. Also a fever is never a good sign after any sort of surgical procedure. These are the things your doctor will most likely instruct you to watch for. In most cases the healing process goes quite smoothly but be aware of the risks and pat attention to the signals your body is sending you.
A hernia occurs any time there is an internal part of the body pushing or protruding into an area it does not belong. The opening in the diaphragm is called the hiatus and is the wall of muscle which separates the abdomen from the cavity of the chest. Under typical circumstances the esophagus, otherwise known as the “food pipe” goes in through the hiatus and then attaches to the stomach. When there is a Hiatal hernia what is happening is that the stomach is protruding into the chest cavity through the hiatus, hence the name Hiatal hernia. There are a couple of varieties of Hiatal hernias, the paraesophageal which is located just near the esophagus and then there is the sliding Hiatal hernia both the stomach and a small section of the esophagus protrude into the stomach through the hiatus. The latter being the most common type of Hiatal hernia.
Some Possible Causes
The truth of the matter is no one truly knows exactly what causes a Hiatal hernia to occur. However, we have been able to pin point some definite risk factors. For one thing, some people are just born with a larger Hiatal opening than others, leading to problems down the road. Other causes can be from the type of pressure that comes with pregnancy or even from chronic constipation in which a significant amount of straining occurs. We also know that women are much more likely to develop Hiatal hernias than men. In addition, obesity seems to play a large role in the development of Hiatal hernias.
Less Common Hiatal Hernia- More Dangerous
The sliding hiatal hernia is the most common and the least likely to cause any underlying problems. However, it is important to mention that the paraesophageal hernia which is much less common carries a much higher risk of complications. This type of Hiatal hernia can position itself in such a way as to strangulate or cut the blood flow off. When this occurs surgery is almost always imminent. The surgical procedure done is not a very complicated one and the recovery time is usually from about six weeks to two months, depending on the patient.
Can Hiatal Hernias Go Undetected?
They absolutely can go undetected, especially in people who are not having severe symptoms. This is why many doctors order MRIs in order to see what is happening behind the scenes in people who are suffering from acid reflux disease or GERD. However, there will usually come a point when the pain associated with a Hiatal hernia will prompt the patient to seek medical attention. The time it takes for this to happen can vary from person to person.
Are There Medications to Treat Hiatal Hernias?
There are medications to treat excess stomach acid which could certainly worsen a Hiatal hernia but in terms of actually healing one, this normally must be done through surgery. Sometimes anti-inflammatory drugs and antacids will be given to those suffering from minor Hiatal hernias just to control the swelling and pain, as well as stop the excess acid from aggravating the situation worse.
If you have been experiencing a lot of pain, having frequent bouts of heartburn and trouble when eating and digesting food, you may want to see about the possibility of a Hiatal hernia. Another very important red flag to look out for is spitting up blood. If a person vomits blood this is cause for immediate medical attention.
We all know that pregnancy comes with a series of uncomfortable symptoms. Usually, just when we think one is gone another emerges! The good news is it does not last forever and there is a wonderful package arriving at the end. The bad news is that you will have to endure the many quirks that come with being pregnant. Today we will discuss heartburn and what you can do to help relieve yourself from it, if it should occur and there is a very good chance it will.
A Bit of Prevention Goes a Long Way
Unfortunately, there is no way to actually stop heartburn from ever occurring during pregnancy. It is just one of those things women have learned to deal with. However, we have all heard that a bit of prevention goes a long way and in this case, that saying couldn’t be more useful. In order to minimize your risk of heartburn, avoid eating foods you know are apt to cause it. This includes foods which are extremely spicy, nuts, certain sugary snacks, soda and a number of others. Basically, if you know that something has caused you to get heartburn before, steer clear of it. There will be plenty of time for that once the baby arrives.
Sleep in a Propped Up Position
Not only will sleeping in a propped up position during the later stages of pregnancy help you to breath better as the baby will not be putting pressure on your lungs, but it can also help stop excess stomach acid from traveling up into the esophagus. This is true whether you are pregnant or not but most non-pregnant people prefer to lie down when they sleep. Put a few cushy pillows behind you and get in the most comfortable propped up position you can. Doing this may just help you realize a better night sleep with less or no heartburn. Always keep a few saltine crackers next to your bed just in case you should start to feel that all too familiar burning sensation as they work to help soak up some of that extra acid.
Eat Small Meals More Frequently
Instead of filling your stomach to capacity at each meal, eat a small meal and let that digest. If you become hungry more often that is fine, just give yourself a couple of hours and eat another small meal. The less food you put in your stomach at a time, the easier it will be to digest properly. This will help a great deal when it comes to preventing heartburn or at least stopping it from becoming a serious problem for you. Noshing (eating a little bit at a time many times throughout the day) is really the best thing a pregnant woman can do.
Watch Your Posture
How many of us have heard our mothers or grandmothers tell us to sit up straight or we’d get a hunched back? Well, guess what! I am about to tell you to sit up straight too, not only to sit up straight but stand up straight as well. Standing or sitting in a hunched over position can lead to stomach acid traveling up into your esophagus much easier. Pay attention to the way you are sitting or standing. Believe it or not, it really makes a difference!
If you are experiencing horrible heartburn during your pregnancy and none of the above suggestions seems to be helping, speak to your doctor about medications which may be safe for you. There are some over the counter remedies that your doctor may allow but beware of any containing aluminum or aspirin and always check with your physician first.
There is a valve that is located right at the entrance of your stomach; this valve is known as the LES or lower esophageal sphincter. Under normal circumstances this valve opens, allowing food to enter. However, in some cases the LES will either fail to close back up or it may open a bit too slowly. If this occurs, stomach acid is allowed to enter up into the esophageal area, causing what is known as heartburn. This can happen to anyone at any time. But if it happens too frequently it may be acid reflux disease.
Why Does Acid Reflux Disease Occur?
There are a few different causes of acid reflux disease. One of the most common causes is a Hiatal hernia. This is actually a defect that causes the upper area of the stomach and the LES to move up above the diaphragm, causing it to basically protrude. When this happens, stomach acid will get into the esophagus and diaphragm. Another cause could be overall poor health, excessive alcohol consumption. Improper digestion based on a poor diet or frequently eating spicy, irritating foods. Sometimes being out of shape or obese can contribute to this disease. Even eating too close to the time you are getting ready to lie down for the night can bring on acid reflux disease.
How to Differentiate Between Acid Reflux Disease and Regular Heartburn
As mentioned earlier, anyone can get heartburn after eating a meal that does not particularly agree with them, for whatever reason. However, when this becomes a chronic problem and starts to happen more than once or twice a week, there is definitely cause for concern. The best way to tell the difference between regular heartburn and acid reflux diseases is to pay attention to how often it is happening, the time of day and whether or not over the counter remedies bring long terms relief. With acid reflux disease the only thing that is going to help is a long acting medication. Your run of the mill antacids will not help but for a little while.
Burning Sensation in Upper Stomach and Chest Pains
One of the most common complaints among people suffering from acid reflux is, of course, heartburn. This is a feeling as though there is something very hot travelling up your esophagus and into your throat. This can be quite painful and often comes on just after a belch. In some cases people with this condition become so frightened at the level of chest pain that they think they are suffering from a heart attack. Unfortunately, it also works the other way around and some people who are truly having heart attacks think they have heartburn.
Chronic Cough- Especially in the Morning
Some people who suffer from acid reflux disease notice that they cough a lot in the morning. They often do not understand why they are coughing so much. They only know that for some reason morning tends to bring on a terrible bout of coughing that feels almost as if there is a frog in their throat. This happens because the acid has burned the upper part of the esophagus and is actually causing what is very similar to an itch in the throat. This is another very common symptom of acid reflux disease.
Acid reflux disease, once diagnosed properly is a very easily treated condition. There are many home remedies such as apple cider vinegar and baking soda that people use to treat the excess acid. However, typically there is a long acting antacid such as Prevacid or Zantac prescribed. This is usually taken online once a day and will ward off undesirable symptoms for the entire day. In some rare cases a surgical procedure to repair the Hiatal hernia, if that is the cause, may be required.
There are several conditions which can cause a Hiatal Hernia. In fact any medical condition that causes an excess amount of stomach acid to flow into the stomach such as Acid Reflux Disease or GERD can result in the occurrence of a Hiatal Hernia. When a Hiatal Hernia occurs, essentially what is happening is that the stomach is literally protruding through a hole that has been created by the widening of the natural opening located in your diaphragm. The diaphragm is basically the tissue and muscle layer that is located just between your stomach and your chest.
Can a Hiatal Hernia Be Repaired?
A Hiatal Hernia can be repaired through a surgical procedure called fundoplication. This surgery works by repairing the Hiatal Hernia through stitching the hole that is present. This will be the very first step and once this has been done, the surgeon will then work to tighten the entrance to your diaphragm in order to prevent your stomach from being able to protrude again. The next step is typically to utilize stitches in order to wrap the upper portion of your stomach around the tip of your esophagus. This portion of the surgery will help to ensure that stomach acid and food are kept from coming back up. This surgery typically takes a couple of hours and is almost always performed under general anesthesia. Speak to your health care provider about the risks of anesthesia.
Do All Hiatal Hernias Require Surgical Repair?
The good news is that most of the time Hiatal Hernias do not require extensive treatment such as surgery. The only time surgery becomes an option is if there are other complications associated with the Hiatal Hernia such as inflammation of the esophagus, or GERD. In some cases the hernia may pose a risk of causing strangulation and prevent the blood flow. In situations such as these, surgery will be suggested. However, there are some people who live for a very long time with Hiatal Hernias without ever experiencing any of these complications. Each case is treated differently so there is no reason to believe surgery is imminent unless it is advised by a physician.
How Long Is the Recovery Process After Repair Surgery?
As with any surgical procedure, there is going to be a period of recovery. With this type of surgery that period is typically around 6 weeks to two months. During recovery, physical activity should be kept to a minimum and there is a high probability your doctor will have you on a very strict diet regimen. More than likely you will be on a series of medications including but not limited to acid reducers and antibiotics. Each person heals differently. You may find that you are feeling great after only a few weeks, while others may take several months to get back into the swing of things. Age and overall health before surgery will also play a role in how long the recovery process is.
A Hiatal Hernia is a fairly harmless thing to have in the grand scheme of things. If you have recently been diagnosed with one, do not be nervous as it is quite common and doctors deal with them all of time. While this condition can be rather painful, it is not life threatening in most cases. The biggest concern would be in a patient with a immunological problem or in an extremely elderly patient with a compromised immune system. Other than that Hiatal Hernias are fairly easy to treat and repair.