Diaphragm, the large muscle lying between the abdomen and chest helps us to breathe. Generally, the stomach exists underneath the diaphragm. However, people suffering from hiatus hernia are seen with a portion of their stomach pushed up through this muscle. Thus, hiatus hernia is the condition when the upper part of the stomach pushes up into the chest through diaphragm. The opening through which it moves is known as a hiatus. Known as hiatal hernia too; this condition involves the stomach that swells into the chest through that opening.  

Patients may suffer from two types of hiatus hernia, i.e. sliding hiatal hernia or the fixed, i.e. paraesophageal hernia. Sliding hernia is usually small and may not require any treatment. It is the particular condition when the stomach and esophagus slide into and out of the chest through hiatus. Fixed hernia refers to the condition when part of the stomach is pushed through the diaphragm and rests there. It may result in blockage of blood flow to the stomach and cause serious damage.

It may be noted that women and the people over fifty years of age are more prone to Hiatus Hernia.

Symptoms – Those affected with esophageal hiatus hernia usually suffer from chest pain. Heartburn is also common amongst the patients and the condition may worsen while lying down or leaning. Troublesome swallowing is also the sign of this ailment. Belching may also be caused due to this disease.  

Causes – Several factors are responsible for Esophageal Hiatus Hernia. It may occur from one’s birth itself. Other causes behind this disease may be obesity, pregnancy, straining during bowel movements or coughing as they cause pressure in the abdomen. The stomach may be pushed through the diaphragm because of damaged muscle tissue due to weakness or injury. Excessive pressure on the muscles around the stomach may cause this ailment that can be caused due to vomiting or lifting heavy weights too. Aging or smoking may also be culprits responsible for this ailment.

Diagnosis and Treatment – The doctor may conduct endoscopy to see the esophagus. Specialized x-ray and barium swallow may be needed. Over-the-counter antacids may be recommended to neutralize stomach acid. H2-receptor blockers are also useful. Prescription proton pump inhibitors may help to prevent production of acid and facilitate healing.

Patients may be required to undergo surgery if the hernia is becoming strangulated or constricted resulting in breakage of blood supply.

The doctors conduct the surgery as a minimal procedure or laparoscopic. It involves small incisions in the abdomen. The laparoscope facilitates the doctor to have a glance at the inside portion of the abdomen. He or she inserts surgical instruments through the incisions. Pictures of the internal parts are transmitted to the monitor with the help of laparoscope. This type of surgery is less risky. Chances of pain, scarring and infection are less and the patients recover in quick manners. Usual work may be resumed within a week from the operation of hernia. However, complete recovery takes about three weeks. Patients should avoid lifting heavy weights or hard work for about three months after this surgery.

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