Hiatal Hernia relief

The diaphragm is a flat sheet of muscle tissue that separates your chest from your abdomen. Normally, all your stomach organs are below the diaphragm. To reach your stomach, your esophagus, or "food pipe," travels down through the center of your chest and through an opening in the diaphragm. This opening is called the hiatus.

Often as we age, the hiatus enlarges. This allows the top portion of the stomach to slip upward into the chest cavity. That portion of the stomach which rises above the diaphragm is the hiatal hernia. The name is devrived from the fact that the stomach pushes, or herniates, through the hiatus - hence the name "hiatal hernia."

Hiatal Hernia Causes

The causes of a hiatal hernia are speculative and unique to each individual. However, there are a number causes. First of all there may be a mechanical cause. Improper lifting, hard coughing bouts heavy lifting, sharp blows to the abdomen (the kind that "knock the wind out of you"), tight clothing and poor posture may contribute to the development of this problem. Improper lifting may be the biggest mechanical cause of this disorder. If the air is not expelled out of a person's lungs while lifting, it will force the stomach into the esophagus.

A hiatal hernia in turn can cause or contribute to gastroesophageal reflux. This happens when a hernia slightly displaces the lower esophageal sphincter, a circular band of muscle around the bottom of the esophagus.

Ordinarily, the diaphragm is aligned with the lower esophageal sphincter, which relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow into your stomach when you swallow. The diaphragm supports and puts pressure on the sphincter to keep it closed when you're not swallowing. But a hiatal hernia raises the sphincter above the diaphragm, reducing pressure on the valve. This permits the sphincter muscle to open at the wrong time, allowing stomach acid to back up into the esophagus.

A hiatal hernia can also cause heartburn if the herniated portion of your stomach becomes a reservoir

What Are the Different Types of Hiatus Hernia?

1. Sliding Hiatus Hernia -- In this most common type of hiatus hernia, the herniated portion of the stomach slides back and forth, into and out of the chest. These hernias are normally small and usually cause no problems or even symptoms.

2. Fixed Hiatus Hernia -- In this case, the upper part of the stomach is caught up in the chest. Even with this hernia, there may be few symptoms. However, the potential for problems in the esophagus is increased.

3. Complicated or Serious Hiatus Hernia -- Fortunately, this type of hernia is uncommon. It includes a variety of patterns of herniation of the stomach, including cases in which the entire stomach moves up in the chest. There is a high likelihood that medical problems will occur with this hernia and that treatment, frequently involving surgery, will be required. Complicated hernias are uncommon.

Hiatal Hernia Signs and symptoms

Most small hiatal hernias cause no problems. But larger hernias may cause heartburn, belching or chest pain when stomach acids back up into your food pipe (esophagus). These signs and symptoms tend to become worse when you lean forward, strain, lift heavy objects or lie down, and they can also worsen during pregnancy.

In rare cases, the part of your stomach that protrudes into your chest cavity may become twisted (strangulated) or have its blood supply cut off, leading to:

  • Severe chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Obstruction of your esophagus
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