What is a hiatal hernia?

Hiatal hernia is a condition in which a portion of the stomach pushes up abnormally through an opening in the diaphragm called the hiatus. The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. The normal hiatus permits the esophagus to transfer swallowed food to the stomach. Hiatal hernia is also called a hiatus hernia.

A hiatal hernia is often not a serious condition. Most people do not have any symptoms and are unaware of the condition. Occasionally, a large hiatal hernia can be accompanied by symptoms that include heartburn, indigestion, and a burning sensation in the upper abdomen and chest. Hiatal hernia is treatable, although treatment is often unnecessary if there are no symptoms or complications.

Complications of hiatal hernia can be serious and include strangulated hiatal hernia. Hiatal hernia may also be accompanied by GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), which can also lead to complications, such as the development of esophageal ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding. Seek prompt medical care if you suspect that you have a hiatal hernia. Early diagnosis and treatment can minimize discomfort and the risk of complications. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, vomit blood or have sudden or severe chest pain.


What are the symptoms of a hiatal hernia?

Symptoms of a hiatal hernia can vary in nature and severity between individuals. Most people with hiatal hernia have no symptoms or complications. When symptoms of hiatal hernia occur, they can be related to acid reflux (regurgitation of stomach acid into the esophagus) because some people with hiatal hernia also have a condition called GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

Symp... Read more about hiatal herniasymptoms


What causes a hiatal hernia?

In most cases, the cause of hiatal hernia is not known. Some cases of hiatal hernia are caused by the following conditions:

  • Coughing
  • Injury
  • Pregnancy and delivery
  • Straining during bowel movements
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How is hiatal hernia treated?

Treatment of hiatal hernia includes an individualized, multifaceted plan that minimizes the discomfort of symptoms and decreases the risk of developing complications, such as strangulated hiatal hernia. Treatment varies depending on the severity of symptoms; the type of hiatal hernia; the presence of coexisting diseases, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD); and your age and medical h... Read more about hiatal herniatreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Digestive System

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