Conditions

Hiatal Hernia Disease

A hiatal hernia is a medical condition that usually occurs because of an injury. Specifically, hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach bulges through the muscles that separate the chest from the abdomen. The hiatus is a small opening in the muscular wall where food passes through the esophagus, and into the stomach. Occasionally, the stomach will then bulge through that opening, and cause a hiatal hernia. Small hiatal hernias rarely cause life-threatening issues, and most of those who have them aren’t aware until a physician alerts them to the problem.

Large hiatal hernias can cause a great deal of discomfort and unpleasant symptoms, and often lead to complications. Some common symptoms and complications are as follows:

  • Heartburn
  • Regurgitation of food or liquids
  • Acid reflux
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty swallowing or shortness of breath
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding, indicated by vomiting blood or passing black or tar-like stools

If any of these signs persist, contact a physician as soon as possible.

Hiatal hernias can be treated in a variety of ways, depending on what symptoms they are causing. For example, hernias causing heartburn or acid reflux may be managed through antacids or prescription medication explicitly designed to neutralize the acid in the stomach. The only permanent fix for a hiatal hernia is a procedure called laparoscopic surgery to move the stomach back to its proper location below the hiatus. In this noninvasive surgery, a small camera and several incisions are used to move the stomach back into place and secure it; the muscles that separate the chest from the abdomen are then supported in order to effectively end the symptoms.

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