A hiatal hernia is a protrusion of part of the stomach through the diaphragm, explains Mayo Clinic. Hiatal hernias range in size; while small ones often cause no symptoms, large hiatal hernias can cause heartburn and belching. Benign means the hernia is not serious or cancerous, according to MedlinePlus.Continue Reading
Many patients never know they have hiatal hernias unless their doctors discover them while checking for other conditions, explains Mayo Clinic. There is a small opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus passes, and if part of the stomach begins protruding through this opening, a hiatal hernia is formed. If the hiatal hernia grows large enough, it sometimes starts allowing acidic stomach contents to flow up into the esophagus, leading to heartburn. Patients with large hiatal hernias may also have difficulty swallowing and experience fatigue.
The cause of a hiatal hernia is not always clear, according to Mayo Clinic. Injury to the area, a congenital abnormality or persistent pressure on the muscles surrounding the diaphragm sometimes contribute to hiatal hernia formation. Frequent vomiting, coughing or straining during bowel movements may also lead to hiatal hernias. This condition is most common in those who are over the age of 50 or are overweight. Many hiatal hernia symptoms can be managed with antacids and medications to reduce stomach acid production, but severe cases may require surgery.Learn more about Gastrointestinal Issues