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If I have a hiatal hernia, is staying on an antacid medication the best treatment for me?

A hiatal hernia is a weakening of the diaphragm where part of the stomach moves its way into the chest from the abdomen. This impacts the function of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a ring of muscle at the lower end of the esophagus that helps keep stomach contents and acid from being regurgitated into the esophagus. When the valve weakens, you may experience esophageal reflux, or GERD. This is sometimes felt as burning in the upper abdomen or behind the sternum, or regurgitation of food. While medications help decrease how acidic the contents are, they do nothing to change the anatomy of a weak diaphragm muscle. Some patients may also be concerned of the potential side effects of those medications. When taking medications isn’t enough, patients visit us to figure out a more permanent solution through surgery which is done with small laparoscopic incisions sometimes in an outpatient procedure.

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By Adrian Dobrowolsky, M.D.