With hernias, internal organs usually penetrate through the protective muscle walls surrounding them. Depending on the organs involved in the cause of the disorder, there can be many types of hernias. Hiatal hernia is a common type of hernia that occurs when the stomach wall presses against the esophageal gap, an opening in the diaphragm. The gap acts like a flap and prevents the contents of the stomach from getting inside the esophagus. When the gap is narrowed, the contents of the stomach in the esophagus can be pushed up, resulting in a hiatal hernia. If the disorder occurs in the area above the diaphragm, one speaks of a sliding hiatal hernia. If the disorder occurs in the area below the diaphragm, one speaks of a paraesophageal hiatal hernia.
Hiatal hernia affects both sexes equally. Although it can occur at any age, the disorder has the highest incidence in the elderly. Hiatal hernia also often occurs in overweight people and in people who often support intense physical exertion (strength training).
Some people with a hiatal hernia usually have no symptoms. However, the hiatal hernia can cause symptoms such as heartburn, abdominal pain, discomfort, and nausea. Most people with a hiatal hernia suffer from heartburn, which usually worsens after meals. This common symptom of hiatal hernia occurs due to the backflow of gastric contents back into the esophagus. When doctors suspect that patients have a hiatal hernia, they usually run additional tests to confirm the clinical diagnosis. The hiatal hernia can be detected by X-rays, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and computed tomography. Nowadays, the problem can be diagnosed quickly with a laparoscope.
Unlike other forms of the disease, a hiatal hernia rarely requires surgery. In fact, hiatal hernia does not require medical attention in many cases, and when patients diagnosed with hiatal hernia complain of heartburn, doctors usually prescribe antacids or similar medications. Corrective surgery is only required in patients with more severe and complicated forms of hiatal hernia. The operation is safe and fast, so that patients can fully recover within a few days after the operation.
A simple hiatal hernia can be effectively cured by improving lifestyle. Proper nutrition and a healthy eating plan have proven to be very effective means of correcting hiatal hernias. It is therefore recommended that people with hiatal hernias avoid lifting weights and overexerting to avoid complications.
Although it is very common, hiatal hernia is one of the less threatening forms of the hernia, and in many cases the disease resolves on its own. However, if the symptoms caused by the disorder are persistent or very serious, it is best to tell your doctor.