Got heartburn? Get answers.

Dr. Jonathan Kiev

Written by Dr. Jonathan Kiev, a cardiothoracic surgeon at UK HealthCare.

GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux, a scientific term for garden-variety heartburn.

It’s a common medical condition that can cause pain and aggravating symptoms. Although over-the-counter medications can alleviate the symptoms of GERD, it’s still important to talk to your doctor about your heartburn so that they can assess the underlying cause of the problem.

Here are some of the questions I hear most frequently from my patients about GERD, why it happens and how it’s treated.

Why do I have pain?

Your stomach contents are acidic, which helps you digest food. However, if that acidic fluid gets into your esophagus, you may experience burning and discomfort. Over time, that acid may actually injure the lining of your esophagus and cause the lining to change.

This pattern of repeated injury can be very harmful and can lead to precancerous conditions if not treated.

Why does GERD occur?

There is a valve in between the esophagus and the stomach that prevents acid reflux, but many things can disrupt this valve or cause it to relax. When that happens, acid can sneak into the esophagus.

Being overweight, being pregnant, eating certain foods and even certain occupations that cause the body to be bent over promote acid reflux and the development of heartburn.

I went to the emergency room because I had chest pain, but my heart was OK. Is this normal?

Yes. GERD symptoms like chest pain or burning may mimic the symptoms of a heart attack, and the emergency room will always consider heart issues first as they can be life threatening. If that happens, you may receive a “GI cocktail” to help alleviate the pain and burning and to differentiate the pain from a heart-related condition.

Do the medicines I see on TV work?

Over-the-counter antacids shut down the pump in the stomach that creates acid to help reduce pain. When you take antacids, you still may have reflux, but the fluid being regurgitated into the esophagus no longer burns the lining.

Patients who take medication but continue to experience hoarseness, food regurgitation or bad breath may require a surgical procedure since the active reflux is still occurring.

What are treatment options if I don’t want to take medicines?

The most reliable procedure to prevent reflux and even allow the esophagus to heal from the chronic damage of GERD and acid exposure is a procedure called a fundoplication. This operation involves wrapping the upper part of the stomach around the lower portion of the esophagus, which recreates the valve mechanism that is no longer working.

This should stop your heartburn and allow your esophagus to heal.

Who can do this operation? How long does it take?

Minimally invasive surgeons and thoracic surgeons are trained to perform this procedure, and it takes a little more than an hour to complete.

Most patients do very well and are able to stop taking medication.

Can heartburn cause esophageal cancer?

Chronic acid reflux may change the lining of the esophagus, causing a condition known as Barrett’s esophagitis. This condition can lead to esophageal cancer.

This is why it’s important for your doctor to understand the cause of your heartburn and monitor the lining of your esophagus on a regular basis.

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opioid overdose

Do you know what to do in an opioid overdose emergency?

Dr. Raeford Brown

Dr. Raeford Brown

Written by Dr. Raeford Brown, a pediatric anesthesiologist at UK HealthCare and the chair of the FDA Advisory Committee on Analgesics and Anesthetics.

It’s a terrifying scenario that’s become all too real in the age of the opioid epidemic: a person lying lifeless, not breathing, because of an opioid overdose.

According to the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, the rates of opioid overdose deaths continue to rise in Kentucky. More than 1,400 people in the state died of a drug overdose in 2016, and the largest group of people affected were between the ages of 35 and 44.

No one wants to encounter someone on the brink of death because of an opioid overdose. But many spouses, roommates, caregivers, parents and safety officials will come across an unconscious person and need to know life-saving measures.

Naloxone is a therapeutic drug that reverses the effects of opioid overdose and allows us to save the lives of those experiencing an emergency. Like learning CPR skills and having an AED on hand, knowing how to administer naloxone can give someone another chance at life. Anyone in regular contact with a person using opioids, whether for legitimate medical or non-medical purposes, should know how to access a naloxone kit and how to dispense the drug in an overdose emergency.

Overdose victims cannot help themselves when they are incapacitated – they need a rescuer. Here are a few facts about naloxone and how to administer the medication during an overdose:

What does naloxone do?

Naloxone blocks the effects of opiates on the respiratory system, allowing the victim to breathe again. Naloxone doesn’t prevent other medications from working. You cannot abuse naloxone, and its effects wear off in about 20 minutes.

Who can get a naloxone kit?

Anyone with a history of opioid poisoning or opioid abuse, a person receiving a first-time methadone prescription, or a person on a high-dose opioid prescription can receive a naloxone kit. Additionally, any person or agency can voluntarily request a kit. Pharmacists will train recipients to administer the drug safely.

What are the signs of opioid overdose?

A person experiencing an opioid overdose will be completely unconscious or unresponsive. They will be limp and unable to talk. People with lighter skin will turn a bluish-purple color, and people with darker skin will turn ash-gray. Their breathing will be shallow, erratic or stopped completely.

What should I do in an overdose emergency?

Before you administer naloxone, call 911.

Naloxone is given as a nasal spray. Spray it directly in the nostrils of the victim and repeat every 30 to 45 seconds, alternating nostrils.

For the prefilled syringe version of naloxone, assemble the syringe and spray half the formula in one nostril and half the formula in the other nostril. The intramuscular form of naloxone should be administered in the thigh. Talk with a pharmacist about specific instructions for giving this form of the medication.

If you are interested in more information about naloxone, sign up for community training available through the Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition.

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Get Fit and Quit

UK partnership helps women in recovery replace cigarettes with sweat

While managing her sobriety, returning to the workforce and enduring a grueling legal process to reunite with her children, Missy couldn’t imagine a day without cigarettes.

After finishing a six-year prison sentence in January, she was determined to get her life back in order. In the spring, she completed a substance abuse rehabilitation program at the Chrysalis House, a residential recovery center for women in Lexington. She got a job and started working through the legal process necessary to regain custody of her children. Smoking – a habit she picked up after prison – helped her cope with her emotions and the stress of court dates and legal battles.

“Quitting wasn’t a top priority because I was so stressed out with stuff going on with my kids,” Missy said. “I would push it to the back of my mind, like, ‘I am not even going to think about quitting smoking, this is calming me down.’”

Then she learned she was pregnant, and she set a quit date.

“It kind of seemed like it was impossible because there is so much going on,” she said. “But me finding out I was pregnant –that pushed me over the edge.”

During her stay at the Chrysalis House earlier this year, Missy signed up for the Get Fit and Quit Program (GFAQ), a community-based research partnership organized by health advocates at the UK College of Nursing, the Chrysalis House and the YMCA of Central Kentucky.

The program, which started in March, includes group tobacco treatment and physical activity sessions. About 14 Chrysalis House clients have enrolled and consistently participated. Through the program, women in recovery at the Chrysalis House are eligible to receive a free family YMCA membership, a free fitness-tracking device and other family health benefits.

Exposing women to physical activity

Enrolled Chrysalis House clients participate in 10 hour-and-a-half Get Fit and Quit sessions with 45 minutes of each session dedicated to group tobacco cessation content followed by 45 minutes of physical activity at the Northside YMCA. UK nurse interventionists Janine Barnett and Tisha Ducas facilitate the sessions.

The program exposes women and families to a range of physical activity, from cardiovascular group workouts like Zumba, to cycling, to yoga, to weight lifting as well as a day to choose a fitness activity on their own. Barnett said many women are learning to replace tobacco use with healthier activities for managing stress.

“The majority of our session content focuses on identifying smoking triggers and stress and discovering new ways to manage them,” Barnett said. “We hope that through exercise, the women will feel the benefits of endorphin release, they will begin to feel physically and mentally better, and then they will begin to naturally incorporate this healthy behavior into their everyday routine.”

Fighting back against stress

Stress is a well-known predictor of smoking. Beginning in 2015, Amanda Fallin-Bennett, a tobacco control researcher in the UK College of Nursing and a primary investigator on the GFAQ program, partnered with the Chrysalis House to conduct pilot research on the barriers to tobacco treatment and cessation specifically for women in addiction rehabilitation programs.

Based on results of individual interviews and focus groups with Chrysalis House residents and staff, GFAQ was designed for a group of women reporting high levels of stress. The program takes an integrative approach that includes a supportive peer network, organized group exercise classes, and access to tobacco treatment specialists and counseling.

The researchers then formed partnerships with staff at the Chrysalis House, as well as officials from the YMCA of Central Kentucky and the Kentucky Quit Line, which provides free nicotine replacement for women enrolled in GFAQ.

Tonya Jernigan, clinical director of the Chrysalis House, said the collaboration complements her organization’s holistic approach to recovery that addresses the physical, spiritual and mental state of addiction. The clients are provided with multiple tools and resources to succeed on their path to health and substance-free living. They also model healthy behaviors by seeing other families in the community enjoying the benefits of a YMCA membership.

“It’s planting a seed,” Jernigan said. “Part of that recovery process is being able to build a natural support system and being able to see what healthy families look like.”

Swapping smoking for sweat

Susan Sanders, a clinical nurse at the Chrysalis House, said the program provides a safe, non-judgmental and family-friendly outlet for clients to participate in physical activity. Importantly, Chrysalis House clients participating in the program are engaged in the community, which helps to normalize exercise and decrease access barriers to healthy activities.

“Just to feel like there’s folks at UK and folks at the Y who are willing to reach out to them — who care about them enough to put this program together— that’s inspiring to them as individuals,” Sanders said.

The clients, most importantly, are learning to swap out smoking for physical activity as a response to stress. In addition, their families are getting plugged into their local community and experiencing the joy of exercise.

“And I am in the best shape of my life thanks to this program,” said one participant, whose identity is protected. “I have been getting compliments almost daily, and the YMCA has been my and the kids’ second home. I feel this program will change lives and its changed mine for the better.”

Missy admits she’s never been enthusiastic about working out in the past, but she’s learned to appreciate exercise and enjoys swimming. She remains committed to the program because she needs encouragement and accountability to make her quit goal. When she missed her quit date about a month ago, participating in the class and receiving encouragement from the instructors motivated her to try again.

“I really started enjoying the program when I had a breakdown when I didn’t make my quit date,” she said. “Janine and the nurses have been very supportive and caring, and they try to understand. They are swift in their thinking – they know what to say.”

*Missy’s name was changed to ensure client confidentiality.

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Following a few grilling safety tips can keep the focus on good food and fun, not on first-aid.

Planning a cookout? Follow our grilling safety tips

Cookouts and barbecues are a staple of the summer season, but firing up the grill can be dangerous if you don’t follow the proper precautions.

Each year, grilling accidents cause nearly 10,000 home fires and send 16,000 people to the emergency room. But following a few grilling safety tips can keep the focus on good food and fun, not on first-aid:

  • Use grills outside only. Even small grills used inside create fire hazards, plus they release carbon monoxide, which can be fatal to people and pets without proper ventilation.
  • Keep the grill away from the home, deck railing, overhanging tree branches and any flammable decorations. Make sure nothing flammable can blow onto the grill.
  • Use the right lighter fluid for your grill, and store it away from the heat and out of the reach of children.
  • Establish a child- and pet-free zone. Make sure children and pets are indoors and/or being supervised by someone other than the cook. And keep them at least three feet from the grill. Burns from contacting a hot grill are especially common in kids under 5.
  • Clean the grill well before use. Grease and fat can build up on the grill and contribute to fires.
  • Don’t overload the grill. Excess fat dripping on the flames can cause major flare-ups.
  • Keep a spray bottle of water handy. Use it to douse small flare-ups before they get out of control. The bonus? Water won’t ruin the food.
  • Never leave your grill unattended. And remember that charcoal grills can stay hot for hours after use.
  • If your flame dies down, add dry kindling. Never add lighter fluid once the flame has been lit.

When using a gas grill

  • Make sure the lid is open before lighting it. This prevents flammable gas from being trapped in the chamber, which can cause an explosion.
  • If you smell gas and the flame is off, turn the gas off.
  • If you smell gas while using a gas grill and the flame is on, get away immediately. This is a sign that there is a leak. Call the fire department, and stay away from the grill.

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muscle soreness

How to reduce muscle soreness after exercise

Written by Laurie Blunk, an athletic trainer at UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine.

When you try a new exercise, lift heavier weights or run steeper hills, your muscles experience strain and micro-tearing at the cellular level, which can cause them to become sore.

Thankfully, there are ways to prevent and treat muscle soreness. Foam rolling, stretching and eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce pain, alleviate discomfort and get you back to your favorite exercise.

Make sure to stretch

Stretching is an important recovery step in reducing muscle soreness and preventing injuries. Muscles can’t react to changes in exercise or intensity effectively when they are tight, but stretching before you work out can help muscles move more effectively.

Static stretching, or holding a stretch without movement, can be done before exercise, but is most important after activity.

Kinetic stretching, or warming up muscles with movement, is also beneficial. Your muscles will get the most benefit when you combine kinetic stretching with static stretching.

Roll it out

Foam rolling has become a popular recovery technique. Foam rolling consists of using a cylindrical tool, called a foam roller, and body weight to massage muscles.

Foam rolling can be helpful when combined with stretching because it breaks up adhesions in the soft tissue around the muscle, allowing for a better and deeper stretch.

Consider using a foam roller both before and after exercise for different reasons. Rolling out before can help break up adhesions, and rolling out after acts as a form of self-massage, which has been shown to aid in muscle recovery.

Targeting large muscle groups with the foam roller, like your leg muscles (quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes etc.) offers the most benefit. Foam rollers can also be used on the large muscles of the back. If you have muscle soreness from the previous day’s exercise, you can foam roll on subsequent days to help alleviate muscle soreness.

It is recommended to foam roll soon after activity and every 24 hours thereafter to reduce soreness.

Food for recovery

Diet also plays a role in recovery. Tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, nuts, fatty fish like salmon and tuna, and fruits (especially berries) have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce muscle soreness. Try working these healthy foods into your diet to help alleviate pain after exercise.

Don’t let muscle soreness deter you from trying a new workout. Just be sure recovery through stretching, foam rolling and a healthy diet are also part of your routine.

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Swallowing disorders are known as dysphagia. June is National Dysphagia Month, so it's the perfect time to discuss how dysphagia affects people every day.

Chronic difficulty swallowing can adversely affect quality of life

Debra Suiter, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-S

Debra Suiter, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-S

Written by Debra Suiter, director of the UK Voice & Swallow Clinic.

Most of us have experienced difficulty swallowing at some point. We might have coughed or choked on a piece of food or felt something “going down the wrong tube.” We might have experienced painful swallowing when we’ve had a cold or a sore throat and avoided certain foods or liquids that were more painful to swallow. Pills might have felt as if they got stuck when we tried to swallow them. In most instances, these encounters with swallowing difficulty are temporary and do not have lasting negative effects on our health or well-being. But for some individuals, difficulty swallowing is an ongoing issue that can have a significant impact on health and quality of life.

June is National Dysphagia Awareness Month

Swallowing disorders, known as dysphagia, can occur at any age. Dysphagia can result from a variety of causes, including neurologic diseases such as stroke or Parkinson’s disease; structural abnormalities, such as head and neck tumors or trauma to the head and neck; or pulmonary disease. Approximately one in 25 adults and nine in 1,000 children between the ages of 3 and 17 experience dysphagia each year. It is most common in older adults, although dysphagia is not a normal consequence of aging.

Dysphagia can have devastating consequences. If an individual coughs frequently when attempting to eat or drink, they may fail to eat or drink enough to meet their needs. Dysphagia can also result in pulmonary complications such as aspiration pneumonia. About one-third of individuals with dysphagia develop aspiration pneumonia, and 60,000 die each year from complications related to aspiration pneumonia, according to the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR).

Dysphagia can also impact quality of life. Eating and drinking are parts of our everyday lives. We celebrate birthdays or special occasions by eating cake; we go out to eat at our favorite restaurant with our friends or families. Someone who is experiencing dysphagia often cannot participate in these activities, and this can lead to social isolation, anxiety or depression.

Even if the individual is able to take some food or liquid by mouth, if they cough frequently or need to regurgitate food or liquid immediately after attempting to swallow them, they may become embarrassed to the point of avoiding situations where eating and drinking are involved. Many patients with dysphagia report avoiding certain activities, such as eating out in a restaurant, because they don’t want to embarrass themselves.

Seeking out specially trained providers

If you are experiencing any difficulty swallowing, please notify your doctor. He or she can then make a referral to a speech-language pathologist who can assess your swallowing and make recommendations for treatment if needed. Speech-language pathologists receive special training in assessing and treating swallowing disorders.

It is especially important to seek the services of a speech-language pathologist who has specialty certification (BCS-S) in swallowing and swallowing disorders. To find a specialist, search

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Fireworks safety tips from UK HealthCare

Got fireworks? Keep your Fourth fun, safe with these tips

Thousands of children and adolescents in the United States are injured in firework-related accidents every year during fireworks season, which starts now and runs through the middle of July.

In fact, in 2015, more than 3,000 children and young adults under the age of 20 in the United States were taken to emergency rooms with injuries related to fireworks.

Before you and your family head outside to enjoy the Fourth of July and other summer festivities, check out our tips for staying safe around fireworks.

  • Leave it to the professionals. Instead of setting off fireworks at home, attend a public fireworks display. You’ll be out of harm’s way and still be able to enjoy the show.
  • If you are using fireworks at home, take precautions. Never let children play with or light fireworks, and always read all warning labels before use.
  • Do not wear loose clothing while using fireworks. And be sure to stand several feet away from lit fireworks.
  • Have an extinguisher nearby. A bucket of water, hose or fire extinguisher will work.
  • Don’t try to relight a firework that hasn’t worked properly. Instead, put it out with water and get rid of it.
  • Be careful with sparklers. Sparklers heat up to more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and present a real health risk, especially for small children. Instead of sparklers, let your little ones use glow sticks – they’ll have fun and stay safe, too.
  • Be prepared for an emergency. Have a phone nearby in case you need to call 911, and teach children what to do if their clothing catches fire (stop, drop and roll). In the case of an eye injury, avoid touching or rubbing it, which can make the injury worse, and get help immediately.

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As summer approaches and temperatures rise, it's important to learn how to recognize and treat different heat-related illnesses.

Learn how to recognize heat-related illness in yourself and others

Heat is one of the leading weather-related causes of death in the U.S., resulting in an average of over 600 fatalities annually. Heat-related illnesses account for an average of 2,800 hospitalizations nationwide each year.

Summer is here, and it’s important to keep in mind that your body’s ability to cool itself is challenged on very hot and humid days. When the body heats too rapidly to cool itself properly – or when too much fluid or salt is lost through dehydration or sweating – body temperature rises. This can result in a heat-related illness or death if left untended.

Also know that age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use can play a role in whether a person can cool off enough in very hot weather.

To be safe and keep those around you safe on extremely hot and humid days, it is important to know the symptoms of excessive heat exposure and the appropriate responses.

Heat cramps

Heat cramps may be the first sign of heat-related illness and may lead to heat exhaustion or stroke.


  • Painful muscle cramps and spasms usually in legs and abdomen.
  • Heavy sweating.

First aid:

  • Apply firm pressure on cramping muscles or gently massage to relieve spasm.
  • Give sips of water unless the person complains of nausea, then stop giving water.

Heat exhaustion


  • Heavy sweating.
  • Weakness.
  • Cool, pale or clammy skin.
  • Fast, weak pulse.
  • Possible muscle cramps.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Fainting.

First aid:

  • Move person to a cooler environment.
  • Lay person down and loosen clothing.
  • Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of the body as possible.
  • Fan or move victim to an air conditioned room.
  • Offer sips of water.
  • If person vomits more than once, seek immediate medical attention.

Heat stroke


  • Altered mental state.
  • One or more of the following symptoms: throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness or shallow breathing.
  • Body temperature above 103 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Hot, red, dry or moist skin.
  • Rapid and strong pulse.
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness.

First aid:

  • Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Call 911 or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal.
  • Move the victim to a cooler, preferably air-conditioned, environment.
  • Reduce body temperature with cool cloths or bath.
  • Use fan if heat index temperatures are below the high 90s. A fan can make you hotter at higher temperatures.
  • Do NOT give fluids. (It may lead to pulmonary edema.)

How to stay safe during hot weather

Everyone should take these steps to prevent heat-related illnesses, injuries and deaths:

  • Stay in an air-conditioned indoor location as much as possible.
  • Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully.
    • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and sunscreen.
    • Pace yourself.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
  • Never leave children or pets in cars.
  • Check the local news for health and safety updates.

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coconut oil

Check out these healthy alternatives (really!) for coconut oil

If you’ve been cooking with coconut oil with the idea it’s healthy, you’re not the only one. Cooking blogs, specialty food stores and many health-conscious eaters have embraced coconut oil as a healthy alternative to other cooking fats, such as butter.

Unfortunately, that healthy reputation may have been too good to be true. According to a recent American Heart Association advisory, coconut oil is 82 percent saturated fat – the type of fat you want to avoid in large quantities. Studies show saturated fat can raise your LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, as much as butter, beef fat or palm oil. Canola oil, on the other hand, has only 7 percent saturated fat, and might be a healthier option for cooking.

All fats and oils have varying levels of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. Saturated fat raises LDL cholesterol, which can cause atherosclerosis, a condition marked by the hardening and clogging of arteries that can lead to heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases.

Replacing saturated fat with the healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat in the diet lowers cardiovascular disease risk as much as cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, according to the advisory.

So, which oils should you be using in your kitchen? Here’s what the AHA recommends:

Healthier cooking oils

  • Canola oil
  • Corn oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Olive oil

Cooking oils and fats to avoid or limit

  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Beef tallow
  • Palm oil
  • Palm kernel oil
  • Coconut oil

The AHA recommends that saturated fat should make up less than 10 percent of daily calories for healthy Americans and no more than 6 percent for those who need lower cholesterol.

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hiatal hernias

Q&A with Dr. Jonathan Kiev: What to know about hiatal hernias

Dr. Jonathan Kiev

A hernia is a medical condition that occurs any time an internal organ or tissue bulges into an area where it shouldn’t be. Hernias don’t always cause noticeable symptoms, but they can cause serious problems if left untreated.

In honor of Hernia Awareness Month, we sat down with Dr. Jonathan Kiev, a new cardiothoracic surgeon at UK HealthCare, to discuss a specific type of hernia called a hiatal hernia.

What is a hiatal hernia?

A hiatal hernia occurs when a portion of the stomach sneaks out of the abdomen above the diaphragm. This occurs fairly frequently and can cause symptoms of pain, heartburn and bloating depending on the size and location of the hernia. Most patients have no symptoms at all, and the hiatal hernia is only discovered incidentally during another test or procedure.

Why do hiatal hernias occur?

Hernias occur because of a weakness in the tissue. This can be caused by aging or even trauma, which may have caused a disruption in the abdominal wall layers. Pregnancy and obesity are known to contribute to the development of hiatal hernias, as well.

Can patients do anything to treat their hernia?

Generally, the answer is no, unless there are symptoms or if the hernia is large enough to require surgery. Patients who have heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, are given medications once they are evaluated by their physician to be sure that there are no other more serious medical conditions.

When is surgery for hiatal hernia necessary?

If the symptoms are disabling, like the person is having difficulty swallowing or they’re having food get stuck after eating, then surgery is appropriate. If a patient is anemic – a condition where their blood doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells – sometimes the hernia can be the cause of anemia, and this can be relieved with surgery, as well. Rarely, a large hernia can become trapped, and emergency surgery is necessary to relieve the constriction.

How is a hiatal hernia diagnosed?

Beyond a good health history and physical exam, a physician may order a swallowing test with dye or a CAT scan to see if the stomach is above the diaphragm. Specialized tests by a gastrointestinal doctor might include an endoscopy, which looks at the lining of the esophagus and stomach for evidence of acid that may cause irritation.

What can patients expect if they need surgery?

Surgery can be done through the abdomen or the chest. Thankfully, today’s techniques allow the procedure to be performed with tiny incisions in a couple of hours so recovery is quick and pain is minimal. Most patients go home in a day or two and recuperate over the next several weeks.

Most patients go home in a day or two and recuperate over the next several weeks. Surgeons that specialize in minimally invasive procedures and thoracic surgeons are experts in the repair of hiatal hernias. Your physician can refer you to a surgeon in your area.

Are dietary changes necessary after surgery?

Patients can still eat all the foods that they enjoy, although they may be encouraged to modify their intake and meal frequency.

Is a follow-up necessary after this surgery?

Surgeons like to follow their patients closely to be sure that these hernias don’t come back. We know that the larger hernias have a higher likelihood of recurrence, and special procedures are done to minimize this. Overall, the results of this surgery are excellent, and patients are very satisfied afterward.

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