A hiatus hernia, or hiatal hernia,is when part ofthe stomach squeezes up into the chest through an opening ("hiatus") inthe diaphragm.
The diaphragm is a large, thin sheet of musclebetween the chestand the abdomen (tummy).
A hiatus hernia itself rarelyhas any noticeable symptoms. However, it can cause a problem called gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) .
GORD is where stomach acid leaks into the oesophagus (the tube that carries food to the stomach). It can occur if a hiatus hernia prevents the valve at the bottom of the oesophagus from working properly.
Your oesophagus can becomeseverely irritated, because it's not protected against stomach acid. This can cause symptoms such as heartburn, chest pain , an unpleasant sourtaste in your mouth, and swallowing problems ( dysphagia ).
You should see your GP if you have frequent and severe symptoms of GORD .
It's not exactly clear what causes hiatus hernia, but it may be the result of the diaphragm becoming weak with age, or pressure on the abdomen.
Hiatus hernia can sometimes occur in newborn babies if the stomach or diaphragm doesn't develop properly.
Hiatus hernia can affect anyone, but it's more common in people who are:
It's estimated that a third of people over 50 have a hiatus hernia.
There's also arare type of hiatus hernia that affects newborn babies, whichis caused by a congenital defect of the stomach or diaphragm. Congenital means that it is present from birth.
There are two main types of hiatus hernia. They are:
These pagesmainly focus on sliding hiatus hernias. They can usually be diagnosed using an X-ray or an endoscopy , where a long, thin flexible tube with a light and video camera at one end is used to examine the inside of the body.
Surgery is usually only recommended as an alternative to long-term medication or if other treatments haven't worked.
Lifestyle advicemay include:
If a hiatus hernia isn't causing any noticeable problems, it doesn't usually need to be treated.
Surgery is used to repair a para-oesophageal hiatus hernia if there's arisk of serious complications.
It's rare for a hiatus hernia to cause complications,but long-term damageto the oesophaguscaused byleaking stomach acid can lead toulcers, scarring and changes to the cells of the oesophagus,which can increase your risk of oesophageal cancer .
A hiatus hernia is when part of the stomach squeezes into the chest through an opening in the diaphragm called the hiatus.
A hiatus hernia can usually be diagnosed after a gastroscopy or X-ray.
Treatment for a hiatus hernia is usually only necessary if it's causing problems.
Complications from a hiatus hernia are rare, but they can be serious.