A hernia is a condition where an organ pushes through an opening that a certain muscle holds in place. There are four different hernias that typically occur in the human body:
- Inguinal hernia — This occurs when intestines push through the inguinal canal, a tubular passage found near the groin area. It helps hold up the testicles in men, and the uterus in women.1
- Umbilical hernia — When the intestines pass through the abdominal wall, a bulge near the belly button occurs. Children younger than 6 months are the largest demographic of this condition, although it usually goes away when they’re a year old.2
- Incisional hernia —This type of hernia can emerge because of a recent abdominal surgery. The intestines may push through the incision scar, or the weakened tissue surrounding it.3
- Hiatal hernia — Hiatal hernia occurs when a part of your stomach protrudes upward through the hiatus, which is an opening in your diaphragm.4
This guide will focus on hiatal hernia. This condition can occur in anyone, from unborn children to those who are approaching middle and senior age. Its symptoms should not be ignored, because they can be very uncomfortable and potentially dangerous.5,6
The Causes of Hiatal Hernia
Hiatal hernia usually occurs in people ages 50 and above, and to those who are overweight or obese. Its exact causes are unknown, but there are a few theories, such as:7
- Injury or trauma — A strong blow to the central chest area can rupture your digestive organs, causing the diaphragm to loosen and allow the stomach to go up.
- Birth defect — It’s possible that some people are born with a large hiatus, which will need to be addressed to prevent the hernia from worsening.
- Constant pressure — Certain actions that steadily exert pressure on your chest such as vomiting, coughing and straining while defecating can cause hiatal hernia.
Symptoms of Hiatal Hernia to Watch For
Most of the time, hiatal hernias are minor and asymptomatic, and you can live a full life without needing medical treatment at all. However, those who do develop complications typically display symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).8 This is a condition in which stomach acid rises to your esophagus, causing symptoms such as:9,10
- Heartburn — An uncomfortable, burning feeling in the chest that usually occurs after eating, due to the stomach acid climbing up the esophagus.
- Swallowing problems — GERD can make it hard for you to eat your usual foods.
- Pain — You may feel pain in your chest or the upper part of your abdomen.
Learn All About Hiatal Hernia in This Guide
Even if your hiatal hernia is asymptomatic, there’s still a chance you can develop complications if you don’t follow certain preventive measures. This guide will show you massages, dietary practices and other methods to help you deal with hiatal hernia.