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Hiatal Hernia

Hiatal Hernia

This type of hernia happens when the top of your stomach moves into your chest area. More specifically, hiatal hernias occur when part of the stomach pushes through the hiatus (opening) in your diaphragm, which is a muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen.

What is a hiatal hernia?

Hiatal hernias occur when your stomach unexpectedly pushes through part of your chest cavity, known as your hiatus. During your body's regular operation, the small opening in the hiatus is reserved for your esophagus, which is the tube that food and drink travel through when you ingest them. However, with a hiatal hernia, the upper part of the stomach forces its way through that opening.

Hiatal hernias can be identified in a variety of ways. Imaging studies such as X-rays, barium swallow studies, or CT scans show hiatal hernias. They can also be seen on upper endoscopy, where a physician uses a thin, flexible tube with a camera to visualize the upper digestive tract directly.

Symptoms of a hiatal hernia

Hiatal hernias may or may not cause symptoms. Larger hernias are more likely to cause symptoms, which can include:

  • Heartburn

  • Stomach aches

  • The taste of acid or bile in your throat

  • Acid reflux

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Bloating

  • Belching

  • Stomach or chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

Who is at risk of getting a hiatal hernia?

Although anyone can suffer a hiatal hernia, a few risk factors increase your chances.

  • If you're obese

  • If you're over the age of 50

  • If you repeatedly strain during bowel movements or lift heavy objects

Treatment options for a hiatal hernia

If you have a hiatal hernia causing symptoms, several treatment options are at your disposal.


If you are experiencing symptoms of GERD, such as heartburn or regurgitation, you may receive medications to block, neutralize, or reduce the amount of acid in your stomach.


If medications don't do the trick, you may require hiatal hernia surgery. This type of surgery typically involves pulling the part of the stomach that's protruded through the hiatus back down where it belongs.

Lifestyle Changes

Regardless of what measures are taken, your doctor will likely recommend lifestyle changes to improve any symptoms related to acid reflux. These include losing weight, eating less, changing your diet, not eating before you lie down, quitting smoking, and exercising.

If you're experiencing acid reflux, heartburn, or any of the other telltale signs of a hiatal hernia, you should seek medical attention. Your doctor will be able to perform tests to confirm or rule out a possible hernia and devise a plan of action to proceed.


The information on this website is provided for educational and information purposes only and is not medical advice. Always consult with a licensed medical provider and follow their recommendations regardless of what you read on this website. If you think you are having a medical emergency, dial 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Links to other third-party websites are provided for your convenience only. If you decide to access any of the third-party websites, you do so entirely at your own risk and subject to the terms of use for those websites. Neither GI Urgent Care of Florida LLC, nor any contributor to this website, makes any representation, express or implied, regarding the information provided on this website or any information you may access on a third-party website using a link. Use of this website does not establish a doctor-patient relationship. If you would like to request an appointment with a health care provider, please call our office at 407-900-7184.

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