Hiatus Hernia: Symptoms, causes, risk factors and treatment

A hiatus hernia is when a portion of the stomach pushes through a hole in the diaphragm and into the chest. It can be dangerous if left untreated.
All about hiatus hernia
Know all about hiatus hernia. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Dr Rajan Modi Published: 12 Mar 2023, 15:00 pm IST
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A hiatus hernia or hiatal hernia is seen when the upper part of one’s stomach tends to push up via the diaphragm and into the chest region. You will be shocked to know that this condition does not invite symptoms every time it occurs. But the common symptoms of this condition include heartburn, acid reflux, bloating, indigestion and chest pain. But there’s little people know about this condition. Read on know everything about hiatus hernia and its symptoms.

What is a hiatus hernia?

A hiatus hernia tends to push your stomach up into your chest. It’s a common condition in people over the age of 50. It may not require treatment if it’s not causing any symptoms or issues. But if it is causing any problem then one should immediately consult the doctor without wasting any further time. There are mainly two types of hiatus hernia:

1. Sliding hiatal hernias

Sliding hiatal hernia is seen when the stomach esophagus slides into and out of your chest through the hiatus (but a portion of the stomach pushes up through the muscle during hiatal hernia, and the opening it moves through is called a hiatus). This type of hernia is not a matter of concern and does not need any treatment.

hiatus hernia
Symptoms of hiatus hernia. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Paraesophageal or fixed hernia

When it comes to paraesophageal or fixed hernia, the part of the stomach pushes through the diaphragm and stays there and sometimes blocks the blood flow to the stomach. It could turn fatal and lead to a medical emergency.

Symptoms of hiatus hernia

On suffering from this hernia will exhibit symptoms such as heartburn from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), unbearable chest pain, bloating, burping, trouble swallowing, bad breath, stomach upset, and shortness of breath. Apart from these symptoms, watch out for other symptoms such as stomach pain and inability to pass gas.

Also Read: Pregnant women are at a higher risk of hernia. Here’s what you need to know

Causes to know

The factors leading to it are having a larger hiatal opening than usual, injury to the area, changes in your diaphragm with age, pregnancy, obesity, coughing, lifting heavy objects, irregular and unhealthy dietary habits or straining on the toilet.

Risk factors of hiatus hernia

Age and obesity can raise one’s chances of suffering from this hernia. It is imperative to get timely diagnosis and treatment to improve the quality of life.

hiatus hernia
Risk factors of hiatus hernia. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Treatment of hiatal hernia

While hiatus hernias are managed and treated with lifestyle changes or medications, some may require surgery to repair their hiatal hernias. The treating doctor will decide the type of surgery suitable for you. One will also have to adopt certain lifestyle modifications such as avoiding lying down immediately after eating, cutting down on acidic foods like orange juice, tomato sauce, and soda, avoiding fatty foods, alcohol, vinegar, chocolate, and caffeine, exercising regularly, etc. Not wearing tight belts or clothes that put pressure on your belly, maintaining optimum weight, and quitting smoking.

If any of the mentioned symptoms are observed it’s better to seek advice immediately.

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About the Author

Dr Rajan Modi is a laparoscopy and laser surgeon at House of Doctors, New Delhi. ...Read More

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