Hiatal hernias are very common. They occur when part of the stomach pokes through a natural gap (called a hiatus) in the diaphragm, which is a muscle separating your chest from your abdomen. Normally the esophagus connects with the stomach through this hole, but in some cases, the upper part of the stomach slides upward through the hiatus. The most common cause is weakened musculature that surrounds the hiatus, which can be aggravated by straining during bowel movements, intense coughing, pregnancy, or heavy exertion.
While many people who have a hiatal hernia have no symptoms, acid reflux is common. The hernia can change the position and function of the lower esophageal sphincter — a circular muscle at the base of the esophagus that normally keeps acid inside the stomach. The sphincter does not always close when it should, allowing irritating stomach acid to escape into the esophagus, which can cause heartburn.
The good news is that most people with a hiatal hernia don’t need treatment, and fewer than 5% of people with a hiatal hernia need surgery to fix the problem. If you are experiencing acid reflux symptoms, such as heartburn, it may be helpful to eat smaller meals and avoid eating within two hours of bedtime at night. If your doctor thinks it’s necessary, you may also want to take an antacid.
— Toni Golen, M.D., and Hope Ricciotti, M.D.
Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren’
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:12 NIV
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12 NIV
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Matthew 6:7 NIV
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18 NIV
‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:3 NIV
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20 NIV
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16 NIV
who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:6 NIV
Recommended contacts for prayer request and Bible study