A hiatal hernia pillow can be a very important tool in managing symptoms of this condition. While having a hiatal hernia is common, symptoms can be very uncomfortable, especially when lying down flat. Let's take a look at what a hiatal hernia is, the symptoms that come with it, and how a wedge pillow can help!
What is a hiatal hernia?
A hiatal hernia occurs when the top of the stomach works its way up past the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a muscle that helps with breathing. Besides helping you breathe, it also separates the chest and abdominal cavities.
If the diaphragm becomes weak, the stomach can bulge up past the diaphragm. When a portion of the stomach is moved higher than the diaphragm, stomach acid can flow up into the esophagus and cause heart burn, chest pain, regurgitation, etc. In order to confirm whether or not you have a hiatal hernia, your physician will need to run some tests.
Managing symptoms of a hiatal hernia
Besides using a wedge pillow for hiatal hernia, there are several simple things you can do to ease your symptoms. First is decreasing pressure on your abdomen. Decreasing pressure on the abdominal region decreases the ability of stomach acid to venture back up into the esophagus. In order to do this, try eating smaller meals and spread them throughout the day. Secondly, try to lose weight if you have a high percentage of body fat centered around your abdomen. Thirdly, avoid wearing tight fitting clothing. Finally, try to avoid eating acidic foods.
Sleeping with a hiatal hernia
If you have a hiatal hernia and sleep on your back, a wedge pillow for hiatal hernia can help you sleep more comfortably. Sleeping elevated on a hiatal hernia pillow allows gravity to help keep stomach acid in the stomach and out of the esophagus. This is important because if stomach acid gets into the esophagus, symptoms of burning and chest pain can develop.
When looking for a hiatal hernia pillow, look for one that is 6-8 inches tall. A triangle, hiatal hernia pillow is an excellent option for back sleepers. For side sleepers, a contoured wedge pillow is preferable as it conforms to the body’s natural curves and gives you maximum side-sleeping support.
Don't try to position yourself correctly by stacking multiple pillows under your torso. Stacking regular pillows often results in frustration because your pillow tower will not support your body correctly or maintain its position overnight. A wedge pillow for hiatal hernia is a much more practical and ergonomic solution.
A hiatal hernia pillow is a great tool to help you manage hiatal hernia symptoms while you sleep. Whether you sleep on your back or on your side, sleeping slightly elevated is sure to help you sleep soundly.
-Bryan Blare, Doctor of Physical Therapy