Horrible hiatal hernia symptoms

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Hi everyone. My name is Jake, I'm a 27 year old male. I have chest pains daily. They last for seconds, minutes, hours, or throughout the day. Sometimes I get them as soon as I wake up and almost always after eating. They’re usually localized to one small area. They feel sharp and stabbing, sometimes dull, usually on the front left chest but sometimes it happens on the front right chest, middle of my chest, or on the sides under my arms. I have had 3 EKGs, two chest x-rays, an echo, a stress echo, all came back negative for heart disease. I also get palpitations like my heart is pounding when I lie down flat. It feels like my whole chest, back and abdomen are throbbing. It sometimes happens after eating too. Sometimes it feels like a lot of pressure in my upper chest and neck too when the palpitations happen. I was also having tachycardia when all of these symptoms started last summer. My heart rate was 100-120 at rest. My primary Dr. prescribed propranolol for chest pains, palpitations, and tachycardia. My HR is now 60-70 at rest. I’m still having chest pains and palpitations. 

I’m also experiencing tightness, soreness, and pain in my throat and jaw like something is stuck in my throat. It’s worse when lying down or sitting up and putting pressure on my upper back, sides, or chest (pretty much my whole ribcage). It makes me cough and it feels like I can’t breathe fully, but I have no trouble breathing. It feels like something is in my chest, putting pressure on my throat and upper back between my shoulder blades and at the base of my neck. I have no relief with allergy medication or my rescue inhaler. 

I have acid reflux and indigestion daily and regurgitation 2-3 times a week. It has gotten worse over the past 2 weeks. I had been taking Prilosec OTC for about a year before my GI doctor started prescribing it to me. She had me on Rx Prilosec for 3 months then she switched me to ranitidine for 3 months and Prilosec again for 3 months. I’m due to go back to her again soon and she said she wants to have me do one more 3 month round of ranitidine. I had an upper endoscopy done at the end of November last year and it revealed a hiatal hernia. I also had a barium swallow under fluoroscopy which also confirmed reflux, indigestion, regurge, and the hiatal hernia. After the last 3 months of ranitidine, my GI doctor said that’s when we’ll discuss surgery for the hernia repair if my symptoms don’t get better. The Prilosec isn’t working as well as it used to. I have eliminated all trigger foods from my diet, no citrus, chocolate, caffeine, tomato, pineapple, spicy foods, fried foods, garlic, bananas, alcohol, etc. I reduced sugar and carbs as well and I’m eating smaller meals throughout the day. I have nausea everyday. I almost always get nauseous after eating anything and stomach/abdominal cramps and pains. 

I’m always fatigued despite a full night of sleep. I’m also getting headaches and upper back pains in between my shoulder blades and upper back. I’m just not feeling well overall, especially when all symptoms occur together. It’s difficult to function throughout the day some days. I’m just feeling miserable. I know all of these symptoms are caused by the hiatal hernia but they’re unbearable sometimes. My primary doctor said the hiatal hernia is most likely irritating my vagus nerve which controls heart rate, digestion, some muscles in the neck, throat, chest, and abdomen, which explains a lot. I just get panicked sometimes especially when I have chest pains and abdominal pains even though it's unlikely it's my heart or some other life-threatening condition. 

Does anyone else have a hiatal hernia with symptoms as severe? Do you have anything you do for relief? What about the hernia repair surgery, has anyone had a nisson done or the linx? Any advice or anything would really help.

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  • Posted

    Good Afternoon. I just found this forum and must say I'm completely surprised how many people are living with this issue! Before having a massive flare of esophagitis a month ago, I didn't know the condition existed!

    My problem started when I started feeling a sharp chest pain under my left chest. I thought for sure I was having a heart attack! I went to the ER 3 times and each time they told me nothing was wrong. I kept telling them in addition to the pain I was nauseous daily and eventually was unable to hold any food or drink down. I started feeling like I had a lump in my throat and I could literally feel the food or drink pass the area that felt bad. The ER told me to not come back and go see my Gastro. My Gastro prescribed me antacid pills (so many Pills!) and nausea meds. But I couldn't swallow them. It would get stuck and I would end up throwing them up. Eventually I got a Endoscope and they saw that my esophagus was majorly inflamed and there was alot of acid in my stomach. They even found an undigested pill lodged in my esophagus! They also found a "Medium" sized Hiatal Hernia.

    After the scope the continued with the pill regimen even though I kept telling them that I could not swallow them. Eventually, with all the vomiting and inability to drink I became very dehydrated and they finally admitted me to the hospital. After two days on IV meds they rescoped me and found that the swelling had gone down. But to this day two months later I am still having the nausea daily and the pain wakes me up at night and during the day it stops me in my tracks and makes me wince.. Ive called my Dr many times about the pain but they keep throwing antacids at me. Honestly I feel like they think Im looking for pain meds. But Id take Baby aspirin if it made the pain go away!

    My question is this... While doing research on my symptoms I came across all of these articles warning that people with Hiatal Hernias a sharp pain, vomiting, and trouble swallowing is a Medical Emergency and I should seek Medical Attention Immediately. But my Doctor seems totally unimpressed with the symptoms and continues to focus on the GERD. At what point is the pain an indication that something is happening with the stomach moving into the Hernia? Is it safe to just write it off as GERD? How do I know its NOT the worst case senerio? Is there a different type of Doctor that I should be seeing or is it the Gastro that deals with this?

    Thank you for reading! Id love any kind of feedback.

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    • Posted

      You need to get referred to a Gastro surgeon. In my case, I've been dealing with heart attack symptoms for 6 years. We finally discovered the hernia when I was getting a CT scan of my heart. My regular doctor was also not very helpful. I was referred to the gastro surgeon and she went through the paces lickety split. I had my endoscopy the beginning of March and my surgery 5 weeks ago. She took my symptoms seriously and I don't have any of the hernia symptoms after the surgery. its a long recovery but well worth it.

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  • Posted

    hi Jake

    I stumbled across your comments looking for an answer to my ongoing symptoms. it was as if I had written this as ive been having the same symptoms I was diagnosed with a hiatus hernia several years ago but it has not really caused any problems until now. I had covid mildly at Christmas but since then have gad bad chest/back pains exactly the same as you describe. I managed to see my dr who put it down to anxiety after losing my mum in October dye to dementia. I was convinced it was a heart attack. I had an appointment at the rapid access chest pain clinic where an ecg showed inverted t waves on leads 1 &2 so was put on beta blockers and aspirin due to it could be angina. they referred moment for a ct heart scan and echocardiogram which I had last week. awaiting results for those but I'm still getting such alot of pain, worse in the evenings but now have developed an upset tummy as well for several days, not sure if its my ibs flaring up as I am getting so anxious wondering whether its a result of covid, my heart, hiatus hernia...the list goes on. I really understand how you are feeling.


    I'm 53 year old female

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  • Posted

    hi jake i can so relate to ur post i've got a sliding hernia also which causes me so much middle chest pain & enclosed throat contractions which my throat closes up & makes it difficult to swallow i lost my throat sensation couldnt feel myself swallowing this happened a few wks back & now getting less saliva dry mouth doesnt help unknown the size of my hernia but it feels trapped some days & causes pain while sleeping all frustrating isnt it my anxiety went thru the roof too because its always on my mind & the pain is always there & when ur suffering not beable swallow proper thats when panic sets in

    ...if anyone can give me a bit more info on the subject as i get told basically nothing by my dr or hospital & they keep me waiting on what they want to do with me wish they would hurry up as my chest pain getting out of hand

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  • Posted

    Whats crazy is for years I have suffered all this same crap. It's terrible and it messes up lives. My wife asks me why I'm not happy and all I can tell her is that I am happy but when you are in all this pain it's hard to be happy in the outside. These last few days have been so terrible. So I hope I will be ok!!!

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  • Posted

    Ive had a hiatal hernia for 5 years. Im 21 years old and feel like im 50. I am extremely careful with my managing the acid burning my throat but it is unsustainable. It has severely affected my relationships. I was misdiagnosed and only found out it was a hernia a year ago. I think the doctors ive seen are some of the most incompetent and terrible human beings i have ever met. None of the treatments make any sense and they think they are a level above the patient by going to medical school. I gave up on those doctors a year ago and have moved on to chiropractic treatment. I have seen two and am about to see a third one. Has helped 10x more than doctors ever did. However, there is still work to be done. My hernia is still there and it was a bit annoying when my chiropractor said that it "wasnt there" anymore. Im going to see a new one but it still feels like rolling the dice. I am currently trying belly breathing throughout the day. Extremely difficult and I have found that you must relax your abs while doing it. Nearly gives me a panic attack after eating but I am still giving it a shot.

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  • Posted

    Hey there!! I just had mine repaired 5 weeks ago. Even though the surgery is not fun and the rebound is slow, I can already see a difference. My symptoms were severe but the size of the hernia showing in the CT scan didn't warrant the surgery. We talked more about the severity of my symptoms and my surgeon went ahead and started the process of tests. She did the endoscopy as well as the PH BRAVO test which is an implant in the esophagus to measure acid. Mine was high. My symptoms were extreme deep pain between my shoulder blades that wrapped around my chest lasting up to an hour at times. Acid, pain in my chest, throw up at night causing choking. it was awful. The Prilosec wasn't doing the trick. I would suggest pursuing surgery. This Hiatal Hernia crap is an awful way to live.

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  • Posted

    One more thing. Once my surgeon got in there she discovered the hernia was larger than shown so she put mesh in to hold it in place to keep it from coming back. Good luck and hope the information is helpful.

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  • Posted

    I have been reading all of your stories and it's incredible to see how similar my experiences have been relating to this issue.

    Since the beginning of this year I've been having chest pains in the middle and left side of my chest. They range from my upper abdomen, up to the center of my chest, and then to the left just under my collar bone and on mu side under my arm. I have gone to the Emergency Room 20 times in the past 5 months thinking i was having a heart attack.

    Whenever the pain starts, I feel that my chest gets heavy, my heart beats much harder, and my resting heart rate goes from around 60-70bpm up to over 100bpm. I get such bad palpitations that it feels like my heart is trying to burst through my chest wall on the left side. It feels like a heart attack every single time. Ill begin to feel the pain in my left neck, shoulder, and upper arm. Classic signs of cardiac pain, but everytime i go to the hospital my EKG, chest x-rays, and blood labs always turn out perfectly normal. I have developed severe anxiety from this issue to the point where i can no longer live a normal life. I was diagnosed with a 3cm sliding hiatal hernia and severe gerd after finally doing a barium swallow. Even knowing this makes it hard to reassure myself that it isnt my heart causing this pain.

    I have had EKGs, stress test, echo, and blood labs done and everything comes out negative. Cardiologist says there is nothing wrong with my heart or arteries. But when the pain kicks in out of nowhere, its so hard to reassure myself that it's my hernia causing that pain, and not my heart.

    GP put me on 20mg omeprazole daily to treat the gerd but so far i feel that it has done nothing to help. I've tried to avoid trigger foods and eat bland, but they pains still come anyways. My daily diet now consists if chicken breast, brown rice, and veggies. I started eating smaller portions and not because they say it helps, but because i am scared to eat because of the fact that after eating is when i feel the pain the most.

    I am not at a healthy weight. I am 5'3 and was 320lbs when all of this started. Thinking it was my heart, I immediately started to lose weight and try to save myself and get healthier (obviously i should have done this much before i reached such a high weight) but I have lost 45lbs so far. This weight loss has not helped my symptoms at all. Maybe i just need to lose more weight? My blood glucose is normal, normal cholesterol, great blood pressure.

    How do you guys cope? How do you find reassurance that it isnt your heart? This small hernia is taking over life and ability to function normally. It's taking away my mental health and i feel that i may never be the same and will always be worrying about my health whenever any of these feelings come in.

    i pray for you all. Doctors make it seem that hiatal hernias arent that big of a deal, but those of us who have one and experience the effects of it on our physical and mental health know that this isnt something they should just be brushing off. I wish they understood this more. I wish they understood what and how we felt, and put more effort into helping us fix the problem rather than giving us meds to treat the symptoms.

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  • Posted

    Hi jake, this thread and all the posts have just saved my sanity

    I have had psoriatic arthritis for 7 years now and been on biological injections for it for 6 years. In the past few years I started to suffer from odd and intense symptoms that I have continually put down to my arthritis .

    Major fatigue, heart pounding, missed heartbeats and irregular heartbeats, difficulty breathing, anxiety (mostly as I feel so ill a lot of the time), feeling cold when it's actually quite warm, intense pains in chest, sides, intestines, back (middle and kidney area), light headedness, spasms or "kicks" in the abdomen followed by a wave of nausea or what feels oddly like an adrenaline rush and an absolute all over feeling of just something is wrong and so ill.

    I tried explaining the symptoms to my doctors many times but I started to feel like a hypochondriac and was wasting their time!

    I felt like I was losing my mind but something felt so wrong.

    I saw a new GP at our practice 2 days ago and he sat and listened to all of my symptoms for about 5 minutes non stop. Within 5 minutes more, after an examination and listen to my stomach, he told me I had a hiatus hernia!

    I was shocked as I never imagined for one second I had anything like that. In my head I had every illness under the sun but never thought of a hernia. He is also the first UK doctor I have ever heard mention the vagus nerve and that the hernia may be interfering with it. I had looked at a lot if info regarding the vagus nerve but never had a medical professional speak of it.

    I still couldn't understand how all my symptoms could be caused by a hernia but after reading this thread it seems I am not alone.

    Thanks for starting it and to all that have contributed.

    I have started PPI's and I hope to have some relief soon, both physical and mental.

    Hope you are well and stay safe



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  • Posted

    It started with racing heart and lightheadedness. and then it got worse. shortness of breath, Nausea, Acid Reflux, chest pain (heart area), back pain. Now i have body spasms, ringing, wooshing and crackling of ears (like pressure or something). happens more when i lay down to sleep or getting up.

    anybody have any ear or head issues? ive seen ENT, PCP and Cardio doctors and everything checks out fine. i have a 2cm (2021) HH, that i didnt have a year and half ago which was my second to last endoscopy (had gastrtitis h pylori in 2019).

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