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Hiatal hernia

Private treatment for hiatus hernias and related symptoms

surgeon chops mesh for hernia
A hiatus hernia, often referred to as a hiatal hernia, occurs when part of the top of your stomach bulges through an opening in your diaphragm (a thin muscle that sits below your lungs and heart and helps you inhale and exhale). Your diaphragm is a vital part of your body; it helps you breathe and plays a role in many other important bodily functions. A hiatal hernia is very common in people over the age of 50. Most people only need treatment for a hiatal hernia if they are experiencing symptoms, whereas many people are unaware that they even have this type of hernia as they have no symptoms at all.

What causes a hiatal hernia?

This type of hernia has no known cause, but we do know it is more common in people over the age of 50, people who are pregnant, and people who are overweight. It could be the result of your diaphragm becoming weakened with age, or from pressure on your abdomen.

Treatment for a hiatus hernia with Circle Health Group

Hiatal hernias are usually treated with surgery, which is typically performed by a general surgeon. A general surgeon is highly skilled in performing a wide range of surgeries - many of which are emergency surgeries. Most of these surgeries involve treating your gastrointestinal tract, which is made up of organs such as your stomach and intestine. A hiatal hernia can also be treated by a thoracic surgeon who specialises in procedures that involve organs inside your chest, for example your heart and lungs.

At Circle Health Group, we have a large network of thousands of consultants who can perform your sports hiatal treatment and help restore your health. Call us or book online today and you could be having your initial consultation within 48 hours.

Not everyone experiences symptoms of a hiatal hernia, but if you do, you might get the following:

  • A painful burning feeling in your chest, often after eating (also known as heartburn)
  • Small amounts of food or bitter-tasting fluids that is brought back up when you eat (acid reflux)
  • Bad breath
  • Burping and bloating
  • Feeling or being sick
  • Difficulty swallowing

If you have any of these symptoms, you could have a hiatal hernia, but you'll need to speak with your doctor to confirm this. A hiatal hernia can lead to gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), which occurs when your stomach acid leaks into your oesophagus (the tube that carries food to the stomach). It can happen if a hiatal hernia stops the valve at the bottom of your oesophagus from working properly.

Learn everything you need to know about GORD

The price of your surgery depends on which hospital you choose, and the kind of treatment you have for your hernia.

Our fixed-price packages include the cost of surgery and all appropriate aftercare appointments. However, any pre-surgery diagnostic tests and your consultant's outpatient appointment fee are charged separately.

Our flexible payment options help you spread the cost of your payment across a time period that suits you. We offer fixed-term monthly payment plans over one to five years with no deposit required.

If you have private health insurance, hernia treatment will usually be covered by your provider. Speak to your insurer directly to find out.

Your consultant will determine whether you need a treatment for a hiatal hernia by arranging for you to have a CT or MRI scan to look inside your chest (these scans can diagnose a hiatal hernia).

Learn everything you need to know about our CT and MRI scanning facilities

A hiatal hernia can also be diagnosed with an GI upper endoscopy (gastroscopy), which is a type of keyhole surgery to diagnose issues with your oesophagus and stomach.

During a gastroscopy, also known as an upper GI (gastrointestinal tract) endoscopy or OGD (Oesophago-Gastro-Duodenoscopy), your consultant will insert a small, flexible tube with a camera and light attached to it, called an endoscope, into your intestine through your mouth. This endoscope is connected to a monitor that your consultant can refer to as they perform the procedure. A gastroscopy can help diagnose many conditions, including a hiatal hernia and GORD.

Learn more about an upper GI endoscopy

If your healthcare team confirms you have a hiatal hernia, they will discuss your treatment options with you, and advise which would be the best treatment for you.

Your consultant will give you a good idea of timelines for treatment during your initial consultation, after which they'll put together a fixed-price treatment package based on everything you have discussed together. Once you've agreed to the costs, we can get you booked in to have your treatment at a time that suits you.

The type of treatment your consultant recommends will depend on how it affects your life.

If you have symptoms or have developed GORD, your consultant can offer a combination of lifestyle changes and medication to help you manage your hiatal hernia.

Lifestyle changes

There are several things you can do yourself to help your symptoms, including:

  • Eating smaller meals more regularly, rather than three large meals a day
  • Avoiding lying down (including going to bed) for at least three hours after eating or drinking
  • Avoiding drinking during the night
  • Eliminating certain foods from your diet if you think they are causing symptoms or making them worse
  • Avoiding alcohol and caffeine and acidic foods

If you're overweight, losing weight can help reduce your symptoms. If you smoke, you should try to give up, because smoking can irritate your digestive system and make your symptoms worse. If you do need to stop smoking for a short period before surgery, they will offer advice and support on how best to do this, as well as how to maintain your overall health and wellbeing.


There are a variety of medications that are safe to take on a long-term basis for a hiatal hernia. Your consultant will advise on the kinds of medications available to you and which might be best for you. These help you manage uncomfortable symptoms of a hiatal hernia, such as heartburn and burping.

If you are affected by the symptoms of a hiatal hernia, you might need surgery to repair a hiatal hernia. The surgery is usually performed using a laparoscopy, which is a type of minimally invasive keyhole surgery.

A laparoscopy can be used both to diagnose and to treat a range of conditions that affect your abdomen. You will be under general anaesthesia for the procedure, meaning you will not be awake during it.

Your consultant will start the operation by making a small incision (cut) near your belly button. They will then insert the laparoscope (a thin tube with a light and camera on the end) through this incision. Your consultant will pump carbon dioxide gas into your tummy to open it up and see your organs more clearly. The laparoscope will relay images to a television monitor in the operating theatre, offering your consultant a clear view of inside your body. Your consultant will insert specialist instruments into one of the incisions to pull the part of your stomach back from your chest into your abdominal cavity. They will guide their surgical instruments to the right place using the view from the laparoscope.

After the procedure, the carbon dioxide will be released from your abdomen. Your consultant will close the incisions using dissolvable stitches. These will not need to be removed by your consultant in a follow-up appointment, because they dissolve naturally within a week or two.

The operation usually takes between 30 and 60 minutes.

Everything you need to know about a laparoscopy

You might be asked to avoid food and drink for up to 12 hours before having a laparoscopy. If you're taking blood-thinning medication, you might be asked to stop taking it for a few days before the procedure. This is to prevent excessive bleeding during the operation. You might also be advised to stop smoking (if applicable) during the lead-up to having surgery.

Your healthcare team will ensure you know exactly how to prepare for surgery, so there won't be any unanswered questions along the way.

You should be able to return home within two or three days of having surgery.

You won't be able to drive yourself home, so you should arrange for a friend or family member to collect you from hospital. If you would prefer, we can arrange for a taxi to take you home.

Recovering at home

It typically takes up to eight weeks to fully recover from a laparoscopy for a hiatal hernia.

You will probably experience some pain and discomfort after surgery while you heal, but this can be managed with traditional painkillers and usually goes away within two weeks. It might also be slightly uncomfortable to swallow, and you might also feel rather tired for a while - this is all normal and nothing to worry about.

It's common to be constipated after a laparoscopy for a hiatal hernia, so you should make sure to drink lots of fluids and eat a diet rich in fibre.

Your consultant will tell you what to expect from your recovery, including when you can go back to your normal activities. Many people can return to work within three weeks, but it can take up to six weeks - especially if your job is more physical. Your consultant will provide your tailored advice on how to recover safely at home. You will experience side effects such as burping, bloating, and difficult swallowing as you heal, but these will improve over time.

Following a liquid diet

You will need to follow a liquid diet to protect your esophagus from damage for the first three weeks after surgery. This means drinking lots of soups and mushy foods such as tuna and mashed potatoes. Your consultant will ensure you know the best liquids and mushy foods to consume within these three weeks.

Six weeks after surgery

After two weeks you should feel well enough to get back to all your usual activities, including exercise. You might need to avoid more strenuous activities until six weeks after surgery, but your consultant will give you a more detailed timeframe based on your individual circumstances.

As with any surgery, there are possible risks with having hernia repair surgery, including a wound infection. However, if you do suffer an infection, this can be treated with antibiotics.

There is a low risk of developing a blood clot after surgery. But your consultant might give you blood thinners to further minimise this risk. You could also experience severe bruising (haematoma), but this should resolve with time.

Other potential side effects include:

  • Pain
  • Internal bleeding
  • Damage to your nearby organs
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Acid reflux

Where is hiatal hernia pain located?

Pain from a hiatal hernia is often felt in your chest but can also be felt lower down in your abdomen. You might also struggle with pain and discomfort when you swallow.

What are the main causes of a hiatal hernia?

The exact cause is unknown, but the condition is thought to be associated with your age and weight. It usually occurs in overweight people over the age of 50.

What foods should I avoid with a hiatal hernia?

Common trigger food for people with a hiatal hernia include fatty and spicy foods, or any foods that are highly acidic, such as citrus fruits.

Can a hiatal hernia heal on its own?

You can usually leave the hernia untreated if it is not causing you symptoms - many people don't know they have a hiatal hernia. If you do have symptoms, you don't always need surgery, as a combination of medication and lifestyle changes can help in many instances.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times to fit your schedule
  • The freedom to choose your hospital and your consultant
  • Bespoke, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Private en-suite rooms as standard
  • Tasty and nutritious meals cooked onsite to your dietary requirements
  • Support from the same compassionate clinical team from beginning to end
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help spread the cost of your care

If you want to know more about hiatal hernia treatment and find out if it's the right treatment for you, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in May 2023. Next review due May 2026.

  1. NHS, hiatal hernia
  2. NHS Inform, hiatus hernia: illnesses and conditions
  3. National Library of Medicine, different types of hernia
  4. Johns Hopkins Medicine, hiatus hernia

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