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Hiatus Hernia

Hiatus Hernia refers to the displacement of a portion of the stomach through the opening in the diaphragm, through which the oesophagus passes from the chest to the abdominal cavity. In this disease, a part of the upper wall of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm at the point where the gullet passes from the chest area to the abdominal area. The disease is common in all age groups, although it occurs more often after the middle age. In infants, the disease is usually associated with abnormally short oesophagus.

The diaphragm is a large dome-shaped muscle dividing the chest from the abdominal cavity.

It is the muscle concerned with breathing and it is assisted by the muscles between the ribs during exertion. It has special openings in it to allow for the passage of important blood vessels and for the food channel, the oesophagus.

Symptoms of Hiatus Hernia

Hiatus hernia is characterised by pain in certain areas like behind the breastbone, on the left chest, the base of the throat, right lower ribs and behind the right shoulder blade. The pain increases on lying down or after heavy meals and on bending forward with effort. Other symptoms of this disease are heartburn, especially after a meal, a feeling of fullness and bloated ness, flatulence and discomfort on swallowing. In infant, there may be vomiting, which may be bloodstained.

Causes of Hiatus Hernia

The chief cause of the mechanical defect associated with hiatus hernia is faulty diet. The consumption of white flour refined sugar and products made from them such as cakes, pastries, biscuits and white bread as well as preservatives and flavouring devitalise the system and weaken the muscle tone. As a consequence, the muscles become, prone to decomposition and damage and ultimately leads to diseases like hiatus hernia.
Drinks like tea and coffee also effect the mucous lining of the stomach and irritate the digestive tract. These drinks, when taken with meals cause fermentation and produce gas. This increases the distension of the stomach and causes pressure against the diaphragm and the oesophageal opening, thereby increasing the risk of herniation. Other causes of hiatus hernia include overweight resulting from overeating, shallow breathing and mental tensions.

Hiatus hernia is a very common problem, affecting several people of different ages around the globe. Even though this condition is fairly common, not a lot of people are aware of what exactly it is. In fact there are many who believe that this condition can affect only men. Doctors report that the question “what is a hiatus hernia?” is not uncommon. It is important to understand this condition as well as the causative factors in order to either treat or prevent it.

What is hiatus hernia?

Hiatus hernia can be described as a problem that occurs when a part of the stomach pushes upwards, through the diaphragm. The hiatus is a small opening in the diaphragm, which allows the esophagus or the food tube to pass through, as it connects to the stomach. At times, a small portion of the stomach can push through this opening too, which results in hiatus hernia. In most cases, this condition does not really cause any problems and people only realize that they are suffering from it, when they are checked for other conditions. However, severe hiatus hernia causes the food in the stomach to go back into the esophagus, which could result in heartburn and severe chest pain.

People could also suffer from sliding hiatus hernia, which occurs when the junction of the stomach and the esophagus, as well as a part of the stomach protrude through the hiatus. Sliding hiatus hernia is one of the most common types of hiatus hernia that occurs and in this condition, the herniated portion could slide into and out of the chest. The other types of hiatus hernia that can occur include fixed hiatus hernia and complicated (or serious) hiatus hernia. Hiatus hernia during pregnancy or delivery is not uncommon and treatment methods may vary according to the woman’s overall health.

Hiatus hernia causes

The most common cause of hiatus hernia is weak muscle tissue in the diaphragm, which allows the stomach to bulge through it. The exact factors that cause the tissue to weaken are not clear, but some of the most common possible causes could include:

• An injury to the area
• Inherited weakness of the muscles
• A hiatus which is unusually large
• Excessive and continuous pressure on the muscles

Hiatus hernia symptoms

The symptoms of hiatus hernia are usually absent in case the condition is a minor one; it is only in cases of a large hiatus hernia that the symptoms are evident.

• Excessive belching
• Nausea
• Pain in the chest
• Heartburn

Since there are no specific symptoms of hiatus hernia in women, many of them confuse this condition with other digestive disorders, as hernias are usually associated with men. However, as soon as a woman notices any of the signs mentioned above, it is important for her to consult a doctor for details on hiatus hernia symptoms and treatment. Both men and women may need to undergo a physical exam or other tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Hiatus hernia treatment

Doctors may prescribe certain medication, to control the uncomfortable symptoms of hiatus hernia. However, there are several most people and health experts too, prefer to follow a few simple lifestyle changes, like a hiatus hernia diet, to control the problem. Some of the dos and don’ts that are a part of the hiatus hernia diet are:

• Eating smaller meals at frequent intervals throughout the day
• Restricting or preferably eliminating the hiatus hernia foods to avoid, such as spices, oily food, condiments, citric fruits, onions and tomatoes
• Increasing the intake of helpful hiatus hernia food, such as pineapple, avocado, banana, chicken, fish, lean meat, certain veggies and low fat dairy products
• Sitting up for at least 2 to three hours after each meal


Submitted on January 16, 2014