Hernia of the Upper Stomach
A hiatal hernia occurs when part of your stomach protrudes up through the diaphragm (the muscle that helps you breathe by drawing air into the lungs) and into your chest. Hiatal hernias will not show a lump or bulge that you can detect from outside of the body. The hiatal hernia gets it’s name from a small opening in the diaphragm, called a hiatus, through which the esophagus passes on its way to connect to the stomach.
A hiatal hernia is most common in patients over 50 years old. Some hiatal hernias can be easily diagnosed because these hernias frequently cause acid reflux which creates a burning sensation in the esophagus.
A small hiatal hernia will typically not cause any problems, and you may never know you even have a hernia. A large hiatal hernia, however, will allow food and stomach acid to slide up into your esophagus. These types of hernias need to addressed quickly by a hernia specialist.
Some common symptoms of a hiatal hernia include:
- Chest pain
- Heartburn / acid reflux
- Difficulty swallowing
- Frequent regurgitation