Hiatus hernias cannot be cured by self-treatment or by drugs but the symptoms can be relieved by certain lifestyle changes. Avoiding heavy meals, replacing them with small frequent ones, avoiding bending forward or lying down after meals, are primer rules in lightening symptoms. Spicy foods, cigarette smoking, alcohol and coffee usually cause severe symptoms. Persons suffering from overweight must rapidly loose weight. Also patients should sleep with an excess pillow at night to prevent regurgitation and heartburn.
The most required medication of patients with hiatus hernia is antacids to prevent chest burnings and pain. These tend to neutralize the acid gastric reflux as they contain magnesium or aluminum. Antacids are available in liquid or tablet form and can sometimes contain an alginate producing an outer protective layer of the stomach. This floats on top of the gastric contents and prevents them from splashing back into the gullet. This method will reduce all reflux symptoms and heartburn caused by the gastric acid. Bismuth compounds create a protective layer on the stomach content as well. Some antacids are mixtures like Rennies and Gaviscon.
Severe cases of hiatus hernia symptoms and complications require high amounts of antacids that can actually show no real benefit. You physician will in this case prescribe more powerful medication like H2 blockers that will reduce the acid production of the stomach. H2 blockers are also known as H2 antagonists and are contained in drugs like Famotidine (commercially called Pepcid Two) and Ranitidine (Zantac). All these medication can be pursued without any medical prescription.
Drugs requiring a prescription need to be indicated by a specialist gastroenterologist. Anyone with prolonged severe indigestion symptoms needing more than 3-3 times a week medication should discuss the problems with a physician. Specialists may prescribe longer-action H2 antagonists or other kinds of medications such as proton pump inhibitors. These inhibitors also reduce the acid gastric production and are contained in products like Omeprazole (Losec) and Lansoprazole (Zoton).
Some prescription medicines work by producing a protective coat on the stomach lining keeping the gastric mucosa safe from the acid-attack. Such chemical compounds are Sucralfate and Carbenoxolone.
Beside non-prescription and prescription requiring medications, there are few complementary therapies available: a better postural balance achieved with the Alexander technique, relaxation, visualization, yoga or acupuncture. In some particular cases, all these methods can be benefic, but no scientific proves suggest their efficiency.
In very severe cases, also very rarely encountered, surgery may be required. The intervention is called fundoplication and involves pushing the stomach back into the abdomen by a cut and securing it there. Any further gap in the diaphragm must be repaired. The procedure can be done by traditional or laparoscopic method.