A herniated stomach, also called a hiatal hernia, occurs when the stomach bulges up into the chest through an opening in the diaphragm, says WebMD. There are two types of hiatal hernias: paraesophageal and sliding.
A paresophageal hernia, which is less common but more threatening, occurs when part of the stomach enters the hiatus and stays near the esophagus, potentially blocking the blood flow to the stomach. Surgery is sometimes recommended with this type of hernia, states WebMD.
In a sliding hernia, the stomach and a section of the esophagus slide into and out of the chest through the hiatus. This is the more common type of hernia and generally causes no symptoms and may not require treatment, says WebMD.
For both types of hiatal hernias, symptoms are uncommon. However, according to Healthline.com, the rarely experienced symptoms usually include chest pain, trouble swallowing, belching and heartburn that intensifies when bent over. These symptoms are often caused by acid reflux, however, and can be reduced by avoiding certain foods and smoking.
The causes for hiatal hernias are mostly unknown, say WebMD. Increased pressure on the abdomen from pregnancy, obesity, or straining during coughing or bowel movements may sometimes be responsible. Women and people who are overweight or over the age of 50 are more susceptible to hiatal hernias.