What is Hiatal Hernia?

A hiatal hernia is an anatomical abnormality in which part of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm and up into the chest. Although hiatal hernias are present in approximately 15% of the population, they are associated with symptoms in only a minority of those afflicted.

Normally, the esophagus or food tube passes down through the chest, crosses the diaphragm, and enters the abdomen through a hole in the diaphragm called the esophageal hiatus. Just below the diaphragm, the esophagus joins the stomach. In individuals with hiatal hernias, the opening of the esophageal hiatus (hiatal opening) is larger than normal, and a portion of the upper stomach slips up or passes (herniates) through the hiatus and into the chest. Although hiatal hernias are occasionally seen in infants where they probably have been present from birth, most hiatal hernias in adults are believed to have developed over many years.

What causes a hiatal hernia?

It is thought that hiatal hernias are caused by a larger-than-normal esophageal hiatus, the opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus passes from the chest into the abdomen; as a result of the large opening, part of the stomach “slips” into the chest. Other potentially contributing factors include:

A permanent shortening of the esophagus (perhaps caused by inflammation and scarring from the reflux or regurgitation of stomach acid) which pulls the stomach up.
An abnormally loose attachment of the esophagus to the diaphragm which allows the esophagus and stomach to slip upwards.

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Hiatal Hernia Causes

Suspected causes or contributing factors

Obesity, Poor seated posture (such as slouching), Frequent coughing, Straining with constipation, Frequent bending over or heavy lifting, Heredity, Smoking, Congenital defects

Hiatal Hernia Symptoms

For most people, a hiatal hernia by itself causes no symptoms.

Chest pain or pressure   Heartburn   Difficulty swallowing   Coughing Belching   Hiccups

Pain: At times, a hiatal hernia causes chest pain or upper abdominal pain when the stomach becomes trapped above the diaphragm through the narrow esophageal hiatus.

Other causes: Rarely, with a fixed hiatal hernia, the blood supply is cut off to the trapped portion of the stomach, causing great pain and serious illness. This is called a strangulated hiatal hernia, and it is a true medical emergency.

Hiatal hernia also causes symptoms of discomfort when it is associated with a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly called GERD. This condition is characterized by upwelling of stomach acids and digestive enzymes into the esophagus through a weakened sphincter that is supposed to act as a one-way valve between the esophagus and stomach. Hiatal hernia is thought to contribute to the weakening of this sphincter muscle.

Disclaimer: Balanced Life, llc. or Andy is not involved in the diagnosis, treatment or cure of any disease whatsoever. The therapeutic methods being used by Balanced Life, llc. are used only in the context of rehabilitation, educational, information for improve nutrition in the case of a healthy individual. We are not medical doctor or any kind of doctor.

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