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Digestive Disorders

Hiatal Hernia problem

06/09/2003

Question:

Hello, My mother is suffering from Hiatal Hernia for sometime now. But lately her condition has worsened. She is unable to eat or digest any food. She hardly eats anything and has lost about 20pounds. It is shocking to see her like this. I would like to know what we can do to help her medically. Is there any specific medicine or surgery which can help. Her mouth is burnt wit acid that comes up. What can she eat which will reduce the problem. Thanks

Answer:

In almost all cases a hiatal hernia does not cause symptoms such as inability to eat and weight loss. In fact the only known symptoms associated with a hiatal hernia are those of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) such as heartburn and acid regurgitation (it sounds like your mother has the latter). However, a hiatal hernia or GERD rarely causes an inability to eat or weight loss, so my guess is that there is probably some other problem going on. Has she been seen by a gastroenterologist or had tests of her stomach and abdomen to look for ulcers, a blockage, or even cancer ? It would not be wise to recommend treatment directed against a hiatal hernia or GERD before these other more serious conditions have been excluded.

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Response by:

John D Long, MD
Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati