Hiatus Hernia

What is Hiatus Hernia?

A hiatus hernia, also known as a hiatal hernia, is a digestive disorder that is caused when the stomach’s upper portion pushes through an opening in the diaphragm, called the hiatus. This condition can occur in adults and children, but is mostly seen in people over the age of 50.

Symptoms of Hiatus Hernia

The symptoms of a hiatus hernia vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Heartburn
  • Regurgitation of food or a sour liquid
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Belching
  • Bloating
  • A sensation of fullness, even after a light meal

Causes of Hiatus Hernia

The causes of hiatus hernia vary, but typically are related to the weakened muscles and increased abdominal pressure which can occur due to aging, pregnancy, obesity, or straining during activities such as heavy lifting. The pressure in the abdominal cavity can push the stomach up into the chest cavity, leading to a hiatal hernia.

Risk Factors of Hiatus Hernia

Anyone can develop a hiatus hernia, but some people are more at risk of developing this disorder. Common risk factors for a hiatus hernia include:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Increased age
  • Pregnancy
  • Being male
  • Being overweight
  • Diaphragmatic hernia from birth
  • Conditions which cause increased abdominal pressure, such as coughing, sneezing, straining, or intense lifting

Treatment of Hiatus Hernia

The treatment for a hiatus hernia depends on the severity of the symptoms. If the symptoms are mild, lifestyle changes such as avoiding certain foods and losing weight can help. If symptoms are more severe, medications such as antacids or prescription medications to reduce acid production may be recommended. Surgery is rarely needed, but may be necessary in some cases.