A hiatal hernia is an anatomical abnormality that is caused when a part of a person's stomach sticks through the diaphragm and up into the person's chest. The esophagus (also known as the food tube) will usually pass down the chest and will cross the diaphragm before it enters the abdomen through a hole in the diaphragm. This hole is called the esophageal hiatus.
Those who have a hiatal hernia have an opening of the esophageal hiatus that is larger then what is normal. Because of this a part of the stomach will get passed it and lodge in the chest. Most hiatal hernias will affect adults – but it can affect a few infants.
Symptoms Of Hiatal Hernias
Many hiatal hernias are the sliding type and do not have any symptoms associated with it. However, the larger the hernia the harsher the symptoms can be and the more likely someone will experience them. When sliding hiatal hernias do cause symptoms they are more often affiliated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or complications related to it.
These complications will occur from the formation of the hernia when it has interfered with the lower esophageal sphincter. This sphincter helps to prevent acid from refluxing from the stomach into the esophagus. Patients with GERS have a higher risk of suffering from a hiatal hernia then those who are not diagnosed with GERD.
That is why many doctors believe that hiatal hernias are often associated with GERD. Yet, it has not been discovered whether or not these hernias alone can cause GERD because it can occur without it. Symptoms of hiatal hernias that are associated with GERD include; nausea, heartburn, and regurgitation.