Hiatal Hernia Symptoms

A hiatal hernia is the protrusion of the upper part of the stomach into the thorax through a tear, or weakness in the diaphragm. There are two types of hiatal hernia: the sliding hiatus hernia, and the rolling hiatus hernia. A hiatal hernia unaided infrequently produces symptoms. The hiatal hernia symptoms have often been called the “great mimic”, because its symptoms often resemble many disorders. Hiatal hernia symptoms vary greatly and are categorized based on the part of the body they occur.

The Most Common Symptoms

The pain and discomfort that is usually experienced when one has hiatal hernia is as a result of gastric reflux. The hiatal hernia symptom of pain is that of upper abdominal pain or chest pain (chest pressure) which occurs when the stomach becomes trapped above the diaphragm through the narrow esophageal hiatus.

The discomfort is caused when hiatal hernia symptoms are associated with gastric reflux (gastro-esophageal reflux). This association causes an upsurge of the stomach acids, and digestive enzymes into the esophagus through a deteriorated sphincter; this sphincter is thought to act as a one-way valve between the stomach and the esophagus and this sphincter muscle is weakened by hiatal hernia.

Other Symptoms

The hiatal hernia symptoms that should be looked out for are:

  • Heartburn.
  • Difficulty swallowing and breathing.
  • Frequent hiccups.
  • Unexplained coughing.
  • Frequent belching.
  • Nausea and Vomiting.
  • Gas.
  • Anemia.
  • A bloated feeling after eating.
  • A sour or bitter taste in one’s mouth.
  • A pressured feeling in the chest.
  • Chest pain from below the breastbone (sternum).
  • Abdominal pressure particularly soon after eating.
  • A pain or discomfort in the esophagus and stomach.
  • Discomfort after eating.

Heartburn which worsens when one tries to lie down or bend over (most often after a meal). The heartburn is also more dominant when one is straining. Another hiatal hernia symptom is the back-flow of stomach contents into the back of the throat referred to as regurgitation. Difficulty swallowing can be recognized as a sensation that one has food stuck in the throat, or from the neck down, to just above the abdomen behind the breastbone. Heartburn is as a result of a burning sensation in the esophagus which usually rises in the chest, and sometimes radiate to the neck or throat. Another hiatal hernia symptom is that of shortness of breath, which is as a result of the hernia’s effect on the diaphragm. The sour or bitter taste in one’s mouth is caused by the back-flow of stomach acid, and juices into the esophagus. Other symptoms include a hoarse voice. Anemia is as a result of the chronic bleeding caused by hiatal hernia when there is a chronic swelling of the lower part of the esophagus (making it narrow).

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