Long story short, seven years ago, I was diagnosed with a "medium sized hiatal hernia" via endoscope. I even once spent the night in the ER because I was sure I was having a heart attack because it was pushing on my heart that badly (all tests came out perfect for my heart! ) I am sure that I have had it for 15 or 20 years. I do not like surgery or drugs if I can avoid them, so here is what I have done to avoid ALL surgeries and ALL drugs in the past 7 years:
There is something you are eating and drinking that is keeping it aggravated. It is 100% a food allergy, or more likely, FOOD ALLERGIES!
Eating; for me it is all wheat and gluten, all dairy, all soy, all Allium plants (garlic, onions, etc), and I am finding Balsam of Peru and Balsam of Tolu hidden under "NATURAL FLAVOR". Keep a daily food journal and eat simple foods that you read the labels for and prepared yourself. Eat potatoes with nothing on them and wait 6 or 8 hours. Stomach feels good? Then it is probably ok. Then say, the next time you eat a potato with sour cream on it and it bothers you, you know that it wasnt the potato, but SOMETHING in the sour cream. Eventually you can narrow it down this way, might take years though. A skin prick test or patch test at a doctor can help somewhat narrow down food allergies, but they are not 100% reliable with foods, and many foods might show you are not allergic, when you actually are.
Drinking; DO NOT DRINK ANYTHING WITH MEALS OTHER THAN WATER, AND EVEN THEN ONLY SIPS! Do not drink much for the next 2 - 4 hours after eating other than sips here and there. NO carbonated beverages, EVER! If I have to have a soda, I get bottles of it and beat it on my hand or the table and slowly release the pressure and repeat until no more carbonation remains. Tastes flat, but has the flavor you crave if you have to have one. Unflavored unsweetened coffee and unflavored alcohols seem tolerable on an empty stomach, they can bother me a bit, but never drink them on a full stomach.
I always keep a bottle of water handy. If I can feel it bothering me, I drink a big mouthful or two and try to wiggle/stretch my chest around to get it to release while trying gently to burp. Then I repeat this until I start feeling better. Sometimes and rarely, I will sip like 1/8th teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate in a 16 oz glass of water (pint) and try to burp. If you can get the trapped air to release, it wont push on your heart and cause you to feel like you are dying.
I discovered that OFTEN you can actually little by little swallow MORE air into your stomach and get it to pull down the stomach and then you can burp out the swallowed air plus what was previously trapped. But this is trick is hard to learn when to do it, and when it will make things worse. I only mention it because often it works for me to help things out.
Drinking a 16 oz glass of water (pint) and immediately rebounding on a trampoline on an empty stomach daily can help train it to stay down where it should be, especially if you are avoiding the foods it does not like and drinks it does not like.
Breathing exercises, like the one where you suck in through a tiny straw or breathe out through the same straw can help strengthen your diaphragm.
Sleep with a bed wedge under your bed, or bricks under headboard. DO NOT eat a big meal within 4-6 hours of going to bed! I can do small snacks that do not bother me, but I generally avoid even them within 2 hours of bed time if I can.
DO NOT bend over or lift ANYTHING with in 4-6 hours after eating! You cant always avoid it, but unless your stomach is empty, you are asking to make things worse, both immediately AND long term.
I feel confident that you can potentially live a fairly normal life if you do as I have done. You may never have a 100% normal diaphragm again, but the trampoline and breathing exercises can help strengthen it so that it will keep your stomach where it should be more normally, especially if you avoid your personal food allergens and avoid the drinking situations that I mentioned.
Hiatal Hernia & Acid Reflux: While pregnant with my 2nd daughter I got heartburn with everything I ate and was drinking a bottle of Maalox a day. After she was born it got a little better, but then worse again until everything including water gave me heartburn. Also I began to have reflux while sleeping and I would wake up after breathing the acid into my lungs. I was pretty scared to sleep lying down so I started sleeping at a 45 degree angle to prevent that from happening again.
I started xray school right after my daughter was born and during the 1st semester of training I saw all these people having Upper GI tests and were prescribed medications but people kept coming back because the meds weren't helping and that's when I decided to look for a solution naturally. I was told if you took a tablespoon of ACV when you had heartburn and the heartburn went away then you needed MORE acid and not less and the pills the docs were giving people STOPPED the production of acid, but you need that acid to help digest your food. I also assummed I had a hiatal hernia because sometimes my food felt like it didn't want to go down and stayed in my throat. After learning about the ACV treatment I did that for about 3 months. It was hard to drink it everyday but I did. I also cut out sodas, sweet tea, and tomato products as these things caused severe heartburn. I kept searching and talking to people and found a company that made food enzymes. I switched to food enzymes for about a year. My hiatal hernia and heartburn went away and I started sleeping flat again. That was in 1995 and I haven't had the problem again. I've told lots of people to try the ACV or food enzymes because I now know for sure that the meds people are put on are not the solution - oh I know it fixes some for a while but then the body is unable to get the vitamins from the foods they are eating and they come back to the hospital for a CAT SCAN to see what problem they have now. Since I work in a hospital and see the day to day problems that people have due to medication or Drs. who are simply overworked and most know nothing about nutrition, I go the natural way for everything. This is a great website and at least when people are searching for a solution they will try it, but I find that people look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them a simple solution to their problem, especially if it is going to mean they can't just take a pill and the problem goes away.