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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Hiatal hernia info

06/16/2008

Question:

Is it possible for patients with a hiatal hernia to experience markedly slower digestion? I know this is not necessarily a GERD question, but I figured a specialist in this area would know the answer.

Thank for for your time.

Answer:

There is more than one cause for "slower digestion". A large hiatal hernia can sometimes make it difficult for the esophagus to push food through into the stomach due to the abnormal location of the stomach. This is called "dysphagia" and can present with complaints like "food gets stuck". On the other hand, some people's stomachs are not able to push food through into the small intestine because of "delayed gastric emptying". This presents as bloating, belching and feeling of fullness for up to several hours after meals. Delayed gastric emptying can occur in patients with or without a hiatal hernia.

Most hiatal hernias are asymptomatic or associated with some reflux that is usually well controlled with antacids (tums), H2 blockers (pepcid) or PPIs (prevacid).

For more information:

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Response by:

Prakash  Gatta, MD Prakash Gatta, MD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Surgery
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati