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What are hiatus hernia symptoms?

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Quick Answer

Symptoms of a large hiatal hernia include excessive belching, chest pain, vomiting blood, heartburn and difficulty swallowing, states Mayo Clinic. Other possible symptoms include black stools and abdominal pain. Small hiatal hernias, which constitute a majority of cases, often cause no symptoms.

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Full Answer

A hiatal hernia is a condition where the stomach pushes partially up through the diaphragm, Mayo Clinic explains. Normally only the esophagus passes through a small opening in the diaphragm known as the hiatus. When the stomach protrudes through, it can leak swallowed food and stomach acid into the esophagus. The hiatal hernia occurs because the muscles around the hiatus become weak because of a congenital defect, an injury or excess strain. Strain leading to a hiatal hernia can include heavy lifting, difficult bowel movements, coughing or vomiting. They occur most commonly in people over 50 years old and in people who are obese.

Doctors often treat the symptoms of hiatal hernias with medications that reduce the impact of the stomach acid that flows into the esophagus, states Mayo Clinic. These include medications that reduce or eliminate acid production as well as antacids to neutralize it. In more severe cases, surgery can repair a hiatal hernia by making the hiatus smaller, removing the hernia sac or tightening the sphincter in the esophagus.

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