Diet after hernia surgery

All Woman

Dear Donovan,

I recently closed a hernia and now have pain whenever I swallow. I was told it is because the stomach hernia has not healed. Can you suggest a diet that will cause less stress or pain to the affected area?

A hernia is formed when an internal body part pushes into an area where it doesn't belong. In the case of the stomach hernia (hiatal hernia), the stomach bulges up into the chest cavity through an opening called the hiatus. This opening allows the oesophagus (food tube) to pass through and connect to the stomach.

In most cases, the cause of hiatal hernia is not known. However, a person may just be born with a larger hiatus opening or even increased pressure in the abdomen from pregnancy, obesity — even coughing may contribute to hiatal hernia. People with small hiatal hernias may show no symptoms at all, while those with large hiatal hernias can have problems with food backing up in the oesophagus causing heartburn. In some cases a large hiatal hernia may also cause “strangulation”, meaning the blood supply to the stomach can be cut off. Other symptoms associated with a large hiatal hernia may include acid reflux, difficulty swallowing, chest pains, vomiting blood and shortness of breath.

Medication and lifestyle changes in some cases are able to control the symptoms of hiatal hernia. However, in some cases of hiatal hernia, surgery may be required to fix the problem. In your situation you have done your surgery but you are still having some problems.

I wish you had told me how long ago the surgery was done. I am going to suggest you make some lifestyle changes to control some of the signs and symptoms you are having. These include eating several small meals instead of few large meals. Also, it is very important to avoid foods which trigger heartburn such as fatty or fried foods, alcohol, garlic, onion, chocolate, etc. In addition, it is best not to lie down after a meal. It is also important to make sure you keep at a healthy weight.

Eating two to three hours before bedtime might also be helpful, as well as having a liquid and soft food diet. I would suggest having more yoghurt, soft fruits, vegetable juices, shakes, thin porridges and soups. Hard foods such as yams and dumplings definitely won't work.

Check with your doctor to make sure there is no infection. Exerting less pressure on the surgery might also be helpful. Good luck.

We will answer your weight-related questions

Are you struggling to lose weight, or just need some advice on living a healthier life? Tell us about your health issues and we'll have nutritionist and wellness coach Donovan Grant answer them for you. Grant has over 12 years' experience in the fitness industry and is the owner of DG's Nutrition and Wellness Centre, 39 Lady Musgrave Road. Call him at 876-286-1363. E-mail questions to clarkep@jamaicaobserver.com.

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