3 Types of Hiatal Hernia You Can Get

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  • Most hiatal hernias are asymptomatic and not fatal, but when symptoms do occur, they can be very uncomfortable and must be addressed right away
  • There’s a chance that anyone can get a hiatal hernia, even newborn infants. This condition is called congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH)

There are three types of hiatal hernia that you can develop, based on the interaction between your stomach, hiatus and diaphragm. Most hiatal hernias are asymptomatic and not fatal, but when symptoms do occur, they can be very uncomfortable and must be addressed right away.

Sliding Hiatal Hernia

A sliding hiatal hernia occurs when the gastroesophageal junction (the portion where the esophagus meets the stomach) constantly slides up and down. Swallowing causes the esophagus to rise, which in turn causes the gastroesophageal junction and a portion of the stomach to rise above the hiatus. After swallowing, the junction returns to its normal position.1

The portion of the junction that moves is usually small, and this typically does not produce any symptoms. In some cases, treatment may not be needed at all.2

Fixed Hiatal Hernia

Also known as paraesophageal hiatal hernia, this condition is characterized by a fixed position of the gastroesophageal junction, but a portion of the stomach protrudes above the hiatus. Another characteristic of fixed hiatal hernia is that it is not affected by swallowing.3

If the protruding portion is small, it may not cause any problem. However, if it is big enough, it can press against the esophagus and become cramped, causing swallowing problems. Food may not travel properly into the stomach, and ulcers may form due to the food stuck in the esophagus.4

Strangulated Hernia

Strangulated hernia is a complication that arises from fixed hiatal hernia. This occurs when the hernia slides into the chest, becomes trapped and is unable to return, which cuts off the blood supply (hence, the name “strangulated”). The main indicator for this condition is severe chest pain and difficulty swallowing. If you experience either of these two symptoms, seek immediate treatment to restore the regular flow of food to your stomach.5

Newborn Infants Can Get Hiatal Hernia as Well

There’s a chance that anyone can get a hiatal hernia, even newborn infants. This condition is called congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). It occurs about eight weeks into the pregnancy, when the diaphragm is developing. If the diaphragm does not form completely, organs move upward and the hernia occurs. CDH can be fatal, but if it is detected early into the pregnancy, it can be treated to help the baby survive.6

GERD and Its Relation to Hiatal Hernia

If your hiatal hernia causes problems, one of the most common conditions you can develop is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It occurs when stomach acid leaks into your esophagus and causes various uncomfortable symptoms such as heartburn, chest pain, difficulty swallowing and a sour taste in your mouth.

This is because your esophagus is sensitive and doesn’t have durable linings that can protect itself against stomach acid.7 Other symptoms of GERD to watch out for include:8

  • Sore throat
  • Pain when swallowing
  • A feeling that something is stuck down your throat
  • Bloating and belching

If you find yourself consistently experiencing symptoms of GERD, visit a doctor right away, as it may be a sign of a hiatal hernia.

MORE ABOUT HIATAL HERNIA

Hiatal Hernia: Introduction

What Is Hiatal Hernia?

Hiatal Hernia Symptoms

Hiatal Hernia Causes

Hiatal Hernia Types

Hiatal Hernia Treatment

Hiatal Hernia Surgery

Hiatal Hernia Prevention

Hiatal Hernia Diet

Hiatal Hernia FAQ

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