HEALTH WATCH QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Slow Recovery from a Stomach Bug—Is it a Hiatal Hernia?
Q: I recently had a nasty 24-hour stomach bug and although the worst of it has been over for a week, I’m still really tired and have a sour stomach and terrible heartburn. I’m living on Pepto Bismol and Pepcid. I was hoping you might have one of your commonsense solutions to getting my stomach back to normal.
A: Violent vomiting, which seems to be a hallmark of this stomach bug that’s going around, can create a hiatal hernia and the symptoms you describe. It can also cause shortness of breath, chest pain, a feeling of fullness, a tickling kind of cough, and belching.
A hiatal hernia can be created by almost any type of blow or forceful pressure on the abdomen such as heavy lifting, getting punched in the stomach, doing a belly flop, situps and violent coughing.
Imagine a water balloon about three-quarters full. Now imagine squeezing it between your two hands, about a quarter of the way down, so that there’s a little pouch of water at the top. That’s what a hiatal hernia looks like; a section of the stomach gets pushed above the diaphragm, causing all manner of indigestion, discomfort and fatigue. Most chiropractors can quickly fix a hiatal hernia, and you can also do it yourself. (It may be wise to have it done the first time by a chiropractor.) If a hiatal hernia is the problem, and the maneuver is done correctly, relief will be almost instantaneous.
Here’s the basic move for do-it-yourselfers: Lie on your back on the floor, with your knees bent and feet flat. With palms facing you and thumbs almost touching, press the fingers of both hands, evenly spaced, below your sternum (breastbone). Take in a deep breath. As you let it out, press your fingers firmly up under your ribcage, then push firmly down towards the floor and then out towards your feet. What you’re doing is pulling that pouch back down with the rest of your stomach. Once you get the hang of it, it’s a quick and simple maneuver.
If you have any hesitation or doubt about whether this is a safe technique for you (e.g.if you're pregnant) please visit a chiropractor. If you do the maneuver a few times and the symptoms aren’t relieved, see a chiropractor or other health care professional.