What is Hiatal Hernia?

Hiatal hernia


hiatus hernia

is the resultant of a stomach protrusion into the upper stomach or chest through the diaphragm. The diaphragm comes with a small hiatus that connects the esophagus to the stomach. When the diaphragm is weakened or torn, the stomach herniates into the chest resulting in hiatus hernia.

It has been observed that around 15 percent people possess this herniation, but only a few possess any known symptoms.

Causes of Hiatal Hernia:

This protrusion of the stomach into the chest is rarely observed in infants when compared to adults. In infants, this problem exists from birth while in adults it develops over a due course of time.

  • As already mentioned above, the esophagus passes into the abdomen through a small hiatus or opening. But, an abnormally enlarged opening would result in a hernia. This enlargement of the hiatus is a resultant of weakened muscles that surround it allowing the stomach to protrude.
  • Another possible reason for this problem is a shortened esophagus. Stomach acids can scar the lining of the esophagus causing it to inflame and shorten thus pulling the stomach up.
  • Another possible cause is a loose esophagus attachment to the diaphragm causing the stomach to move upwards.

Risk Factors:

An intense pressure on the abdomen also increases the risk of of a hiatus hernia. Let us look at some factors that increase this risk-

  • persistent hard coughs, sneezes and vomiting
  • lifting heavy weights
  • pregnancy
  • constipation
  • stress
  • drug abuse
  • smoking
  • obesity

Types and Symptoms:

These enlargements of the hiatus are classified into two types, viz.




. While the former are the most common form of these hernias, the latter are usually uncommon.

Sliding hernias are usually asymptomatic as the enlargement of the hiatus is only minimal in these cases. Even if there are any symptoms in these cases, they are most likely to be similar to that of GERD, like nausea, heartburn and regurgitation, chest pain and belching.



hiatal hernia

were to be asymptomatic, there is absolutely no need of treatment. But if the above mentioned symptoms were to persist, antacids and medications would be necessary to reduce the effect of stomach acids on the esophagus.

At the same time, avoiding heavy meals, smoking and immediate lying down after a meal is necessary.

1 response to What is Hiatal Hernia?

  1. jen said on April 6, 2011

    i had a hernia above my bellybutton. Last year i had it repaird with a mess. Now i have the lump back and now the lump is also in my belly button. Could i have reherniated myself? From straining from constipation?

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