A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach pushes up into the chest through a small opening in the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the abdomen from the chest. A hiatal hernia results in retention of acid and other contents since the stomach tends to get squeezed by this opening in the diaphragm.
Symptoms of a Hiatal Hernia
- Vomiting or regurgitation
- Intermittent difficulty swallowing, especially solid foods
- Feeling full after eating only a small amount of food
- Abdominal or chest pain
- Abdominal bleeding, which is apparent as bright red blood in vomit, as dark red or black stools or as anemia or blood loss, on a blood test
Causes of a Hiatal Hernia
- The cause is unknown, but possible triggers include the following:
- Straining while having a bowel movement
- Sudden physical exertion
- Obesity can also contribute to this disorder
Treating a Hiatal Hernia
Treatment options vary, depending on your specific situation. It is important to seek the advice of a gastroenterologist for a specific treatment regime. In some cases treatment is not necessary, in other cases the symptoms can be treated with medication or with a surgical procedure.
Preventing a Hiatal Hernia
Some hernias cannot be prevented because you may have been born with it. Others can be prevented by learning how to lift heavy objects properly, avoiding or treating constipation, seeking treatment for a persistent cough and maintaining a healthy body weight. If you think you have a hernia, seek the advice of a gastroenterologist.
A Proactive Approach to Hernia Repair
Hernias were once considered just a hole in the abdominal wall that required a simple repair. But research during the past several years is now showing that it’s not always so straightforward.