Saturday, October 27, 2012

Learning More About My Hiatus Hernia

So most of you probably know by now that I have acid reflux, also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). I was diagnosed with it when I was 16, a Junior in high school. For many years I struggled with symptoms thinking I was just sick all the time. But my doctor put everything together and put me on a great anti-acid medication. But in the middle of my sophomore year of college my new doctor decided I should get it properly diagnosed. So I got an upper endoscopy January 2011 and found that I have a hiatus (or hiatal) hernia. This isn't the reason to why I have acid reflux because not everyone with a hiatal hernia has symptoms, but it greatly contributes. (video below about how a sliding hiatal hernia forms)

I stayed on my same medication for about another year after I found out about the hernia, but about a year ago I stopped because it was too expensive and I figured I would just be careful. But I have learned it is hard to be careful. I love all the foods that make me sick. And I have a harder time with semi-acidic/fatty foods without my medicine. This means that for the last few months I have had strong symptoms at least 4 days a week. (On medication it was maybe once every two weeks). 

So because of this I'm trying to get myself better educated. I bought a cookbook written by someone who has GERD and it explains the symptoms associated with it for someone like me and things to avoid. I'm also learning more via good websites. I have yet to find someone who has the hernia like me. So if you know someone, let me know and we can chat. 

Some things I have learned about good dieting for someone with GERD, either through my experimentation or my research:
  • Avoid large meals that boosts the stomachs pressure
  • Don't eat 2-3 hours before bedtime, laying flat can worsen symptoms
  • Spicy foods (anything spicy attacks me)
  • Foods rich in fat :( (still working on this one...)
  • High calorie diet
  • Chocolate (I'm going to ignore this one)
  • Alcohol and coffee - good thing I don't drink either!
  • Carbonated beverages - which is interesting because when I was 17 I felt inspired to stop drinking caffeinated drinks and I haven't ever since, now I just need to be better with Sprite
  • Tomatos 
  • Citrus Fruits (one of the hardest for me to avoid)
  • Fast food should be avoided, or at least not eaten often

I have also learned that vigorous exercise is bad, it could cause stomach contents to splash into the esophagus (just another excuse for me to stop exercising, haha). But doing things like light jogging or walking would help my digestion. 

I have also learned a lot about the symptoms of GERD and a hiatal hernia. This is good for me because now I can recognize that something is coming from a symptom, not being sick from something else. So the symptoms I have learned I have include:
  • Heartburn / Chest pain
  • Sore throat / sore mouth
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Belching or hiccuping (gas in general)
  • Coughing / Ear aches
  • Difficulty swallowing / Feeling of having food stuck in your throat
  • Interrupted sleep
  • Taste of acid in mouth
  • Labored breathing and/or asthma (which is interesting because my childhood asthma came back around the time I got diagnosed with GERD in high school, thinking it was sports induced but I recently learned asthma can be associated with GERD which makes more sense to me)

There are other symptoms associated with GERD, but the above are the ones that I have consistently experienced. I'm still trying to learn more in order to feel better and avoid having Barrett's esophagus or esophageal cancer. Thanks for reading this and if you know more about this I would love to hear it!

Video on how a hiatal hernia forms: 

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