Don't Ignore Hiatus Hernia: How To Recognize The Symptoms And Seek Treatment

A hiatus hernia is a condition that occurs when a part of the stomach pushes up into the chest through an opening in the diaphragm, which is the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. This condition is common, with around 15-20% of adults experiencing it at some point in their lives. In this article, we will explore the symptoms, causes, risk factors, and treatment options for hiatus hernia.

Many people with hiatus hernia do not experience any symptoms, and the condition is often discovered incidentally during medical tests for other conditions. However, in some cases, hiatus hernia can cause the following symptoms:

  • Heartburn: This is a burning sensation in the chest, which is caused by stomach acid flowing back up into the esophagus.
  • Regurgitation: This is the sensation of food or liquid coming back up into the mouth or throat.
  • Difficulty swallowing: This can occur due to the stomach pushing up into the chest and pressing against the esophagus.
  • Chestpain: This can be a sharp or dull pain that occurs in the chest or upper abdomen.
  • Shortness of breath: This can occur due to the pressure from the hernia pushing against the lungs.
  • Feeling full or bloated after eating: This can occur due to the stomach pushing up into the chest and not being able to expand fully.


The exact cause of hiatus hernia is not known. However, certain factors may increase an individual's risk of developing the condition, including:

  • Age: Hiatus hernia is more common in older adults, as the muscles in the diaphragm can weaken with age.
  • Gender: Women are more likely than men to develop hiatus hernia.
  • Obesity: Being overweight or obese can increase the pressure on the stomach, making it more likely to push up through the diaphragm.
  • Pregnancy: The pressure on the stomach from the growing fetus can increase the risk of developing hiatus hernia.
  • Smoking: Smoking weakens the muscles in the esophagus and can increase the risk of developing hiatus hernia.

Risk Factors

There are several factors that can increase an individual's risk of developing hiatus hernia, including:

  • Family history: Having a family history of hiatus hernia increases the risk of developing the condition.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): GERD is a condition that causes stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus, and it is a risk factor for developing hiatus hernia.
  • Chronic constipation: Straining during bowel movements can increase the pressure in the abdomen and increase the risk of developing hiatus hernia.
  • Prolonged coughing: Frequent and persistent coughing can increase the pressure in the abdomen and increase the risk of developing hiatus hernia.


Treatment options for hiatus hernia depend on the severity of the condition and the presence of symptoms. In many cases, lifestyle changes can help to relieve symptoms, including:

  • Losing weight: This can reduce the pressure on the stomach and help to prevent the hernia from getting worse.
  • Avoiding trigger foods: Certain foods, such as spicy or fatty foods, can trigger heartburn and should be avoided.
  • Elevating the head of the bed: Sleeping with the head of the bed elevated can help to reduce the symptoms of heartburn and regurgitation.
  • Quitting smoking: Quitting smoking can help to improve the symptoms of hiatus hernia, as smoking weakens the muscles in the esophagus.

In conclusion, hiatus hernia is a common condition that can cause discomfort and pain for those who suffer from it. While there is no guaranteed way to prevent hiatus hernia, individuals can take steps to reduce their risk and manage the symptoms if they develop. Making lifestyle changes such as avoiding trigger foods, quitting smoking, losing weight, and practicing stress-reducing techniques can help to alleviate the discomfort associated with hiatus hernia. Seeking medical advice and exploring treatment options can also help to reduce symptoms and prevent complications. With the right care, individuals can enjoy improved digestive health and a greater quality of life. Remember, it’s important to take care of your body and seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms of hiatus hernia.

Dr. Nishchal Anand
Senior Consultant
Department of General & Minimally Invasive Surgery
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