Hiatal Hernia

Hiatal Hernia

Any time an internal body part pushes into an area where it doesn’t belong, it’s called a hernia.

The hiatus is an opening in the diaphragm — the muscular wall separating the chest cavity from the abdomen. Normally, the esophagus (food pipe) goes through the hiatus and attaches to the stomach. In a hiatal hernia(also called hiatus hernia) the stomach bulges up into the chest through that opening.

There are two main types of hiatal hernias: sliding and paraesophageal (next to the esophagus).

In a sliding hiatal hernia, the stomach and the section of the esophagus that joins the stomach slide up into the chest through the hiatus. This is the more common type of hernia.

Hiatal Hernia

The paraesophageal hernia is less common, but is more cause for concern. The esophagus and stomach stay in their normal locations, but part of the stomach squeezes through the hiatus, landing it next to the esophagus. Although you can have this type of hernia without any symptoms, the danger is that the stomach can become “strangled,” or have its blood supply shut off.

Many people with hiatal hernia have no symptoms, but others may have heartburn related to gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. Although there appears to be a link, one condition does not seem to cause the other, because many people have a hiatal hernia without having GERD, and others have GERD without having a hiatal hernia.

People with heartburn may experience chest pain that can easily be confused with the pain of a heart attack. That’s why it’s so important to undergo testing and get properly diagnosed.

What Causes a Hiatal Hernia?

Most of the time, the cause is not known. A person may be born with a larger hiatal opening. Increased pressure in the abdomen such as from pregnancy, obesity, coughing, or straining during bowel movements may also play a role.

Who Is at Risk for Hiatal Hernia?

Hiatal hernias occur more often in women, people who are overweight, and people older than 50.

How Is a Hiatal Hernia Diagnosed?

A hiatal hernia can be diagnosed with a specialized X-ray (using a barium swallow) that allows a doctor to see the esophagus or with endoscopy.

How Are Hiatal Hernias Treated?

Most people do not experience any symptoms of their hiatal hernia so no treatment is necessary. However, the paraesophageal hernia (when part of the stomach squeezes through the hiatus) can sometimes cause the stomach to be strangled, so surgery is sometimes recommended. Other symptoms that may occur along with the hernia such as chest pain should be properly evaluated.Symptoms of GERD, such asheartburn, should be treated.

When Is Hiatal Hernia Surgery Necessary?

If the hiatal hernia is in danger of becoming constricted or strangulated (so that the blood supply is cut off), surgery may be needed to reduce the hernia, meaning put it back where it belongs.

Hiatal hernia surgery can often be performed as a laparoscopic, or “minimally invasive,” procedure. During this type of surgery, a few small (5 to 10 millimeter) incisions are made in the abdomen. The laparoscope that allows the surgeon to see inside the abdomen and surgical instruments are inserted through these incisions. The surgeon is guided by the laparoscope, which transmits a picture of the internal organs to a monitor. The advantages of laparoscopic surgery include smaller incisions, less risk of infection, less pain and scarring, and a more rapid recovery.

Many patients are able to walk around the day after hernia surgery. Generally, there are no dietary restrictions and the patient can resume his or her regular activities within a week. Complete recovery will take two to three weeks, and hard labor and heavy lifting should be avoided for at least three months after surgery. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee, even with surgery, that the hernia will not return.

When Should I Call the Doctor About a Hiatal Hernia?

If you have been diagnosed with a hiatal hernia and you develop severe pain in the chest or abdomen, become nauseated, are vomiting, or are unable to have a bowel movement or pass gas, you may have a strangulated hernia or an obstruction, which are medical emergencies. Call your doctor immediately.

10 Treatments for Hiatal Hernia

When an organ anywhere in the body inflates due to stress, inflammation or infection, it gets a hernia. A hiatal hernia is the enlargement of the diaphragm. In spite of the fearsome name and description, most of its sufferers don’t even know they have it. Only around twenty percent of those affected by a hiatal hernia notice any symptoms. Even then, the symptoms can hardly relate to the disease, as they can derive from lots of conditions. For example, Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a side-effect of a hiatal hernia. There are about seven other organs with varying complications, all of which can also cause GERD.

It’s difficult for a doctor to diagnose this illness. The entire digestive tract, from the esophagus down to the rectum needs to get checked as well. It would be more accurate to say that a hiatal hernia belongs to a summary of gastrointestinal tract diseases. Heartburn, anemia, and GERD are the most common symptoms of a hiatal hernia. However, it can sometimes lead to more severe conditions, such as intestinal bleeding. As all of these diseases come about due to an unhealthy lifestyle, it’s best to prevent them early. A viable way to do this is to take note of the ten treatments of a hiatal hernia below.

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10 Symptoms of Hiatal Hernia

There are two types of Hiatal hernias – a paraesophageal Hernia and a sliding Hiatal hernia, which is more common. In fact, almost 95% of Hiatal hernias are sliding Hiatal hernias. With this type of a hiatal hernia, the GE junction as well as part of your stomach slides upward and into space in your chest between your lungs where the heart is housed, and the esophagus passes through, which is called the mediastinum. In this case, the hernia is more prominent in two circumstances – when you inhale because your diaphragm contracts and goes down towards your abdominal cavity and when you swallow and your esophagus shortens.
In a paraesophageal hernia, the space in your phrenoesophageal membrane is bigger so a bigger part of your stomach herniates next to the esophagus and it stays there, while the GE junction remains under your diaphragm. Typically a Hiatal hernia itself causes no visible symptoms unless it is already become severe. This is why it is actually not known how rare or how frequent this condition happens in general. Though there is a lack of obvious symptoms, they are there, and you would need to know all about them so that if you observe them in your own body, you would have cause for alarm. Read on to learn about the different symptoms of Hiatal hernias which you must look out for to avoid having to deal with a severe diagnosis in the future.

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