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Hiatal Hernia

medical illustration of a Hiatus Hernia | GI North | Cumming, GOne of the most overlooked causes of discomfort and pain is a hiatal hernia. This is because the symptoms are similar to other health ailments. The condition induces a variety of symptoms like indigestion, bloating, acid reflux, pains in the chest and abdominal gas. However, other reasons for these same complaints can be caused by enzyme problems and/or ones diet.

In addition, hiatal hernias do not always show any symptoms, especially if they are small in size. Nevertheless, large ones can show numerous signs like belching, heartburn and chest pain. What is more, it is more common for people who smoke, are overweight or over the age of 50 to get a hiatal hernia. However, it is not unheard of for children to be born with it (congenital). In fact, according to Medline Plus, hiatal hernias often happen with gastroesophageal reflux in infants.

Possible Causes

The precise cause of hiatal hernias is still unknown. However, the condition generally occurs when the stomach bulges through the diaphragm due to weakened muscle tissues. As well, the condition may cause a backflow (reflux) of gastric acid from the stomach to enter the esophagus. In result, many of the symptoms start arising.
In addition, many specialists believe that a hiatal hernia can be caused by other factors such as:

  • Injury to the surrounding area
  • Being born with an abnormally large hiatus
  • Intense and constant pressure on the surrounding muscles like when you cough; lift heavy objects, strain during a bowel movement or vomit.

Different Types

There are various types of hiatal hernias that can range in severity. The most common type is sliding hiatal hernias. In fact, in accordance to Medicine Net, this type accounts for 95% of all hiatal hernias. But, it is not known how often the condition occurs in the general population. With this type, a part of the stomach and the GE junction slide upwards in the space between the lungs and the chest known as the mediastinum. Additionally, this type of hernia is more bulbous during stimulus or when there is action such as the diaphragm contracting and descending or when the esophagus is shortened during swallowing.

Another type of hiatal hernias is the paraesophageal hernia. This type of hernia is quite uncommon. It generally occurs when the gap in the phrenoesophageal membrane is bigger. As well, a large part of the stomach herniates into the chest beside the esophagus and remains there. However, the GE junction stays below the diaphragm.

In a paraesophageal hernia, the space within the phrenoesophageal membrane is larger than normal. In addition, the GE junction is still below the diaphragm but much of the stomach herniates into the chest alongside the esophagus and stays there.

Additionally, both sliding and paraesophageal hiatal hernias can occur in combination. This is when diaphragm becomes bigger and the GE junction and more of the stomach herniates and shifts into the chest.

Seeking Professional Advice

If you suspect that you have a hiatal hernia, if you have prolonged or new symptoms, it is best to seek professional advice. At GI North, gastroenterologists Dr. Cofrancesco, Dr. Quijano and their professional staff are committed to providing all patients with outstanding care. Together, each physician brings years of experience, specializing in the diagnoses and treatment of digestive issues. As well, Dr. Quijano speaks fluent Spanish. And for your convenience, GI North serves Cumming as well as the surrounding areas of Alpharetta, Canton, Dahlonega, Duluth and Canton, Dawsonville, Johns Creek, Milton, Roswell and Suwanee.

© 2016 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

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