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What is a Hiatal Hernia and How Does it Cause Acid Reflux?

March 3, 2023

What is a Hiatal Hernia and How Does it Cause Acid Reflux?

Are you one of the millions of people who suffer from acid reflux? Have you heard about hiatal hernia and wonder how it’s related to your symptoms? You’re not alone. Hiatal hernia is a common condition that affects many individuals, but few understand its association with acid reflux. In this blog post, we’ll break down what a hiatal hernia is and explain how it can contribute to your discomfort so that you can take control of your health. So, sit back, relax, and get ready to learn!

Introduction to Hiatal Hernia

A hiatal hernia is a condition in which the upper part of the stomach protrudes through an opening in the diaphragm into the thoracic cavity. The diaphragm is a muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen.

Most hiatal hernias are small and don’t cause symptoms. However, a large hiatal hernia can cause heartburn and other symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

GERD is a condition in which stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus, the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. This can cause heartburn, chest pain, and other symptoms.

A hiatal hernia may be caused by a weakening of the muscles or tissues around the diaphragm. Obesity, pregnancy, and being born with a defect in the diaphragm can also contribute to hiatal hernias.

Anatomy of a Hiatal Hernia

A hiatal hernia is a condition in which the stomach bulges up through the diaphragm into the chest cavity. The diaphragm is a muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen and helps keep the stomach contents in place.

In most people, the junction between the esophagus and stomach – known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) – is located below the diaphragm. However, in people with a hiatal hernia, the LES is located above the diaphragm. This allows stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn and other symptoms of acid reflux.

Hiatal hernias are relatively common, affecting about 20% of adults in Western countries. They are more common in women than men and tend to increase in frequency with age. Obesity and smoking are also risk factors for developing a hiatal hernia.

There are two main types of hiatal hernia: sliding and paraesophageal. In a sliding hiatal hernia, the junction between the esophagus and stomach moves up and down through the opening in the diaphragm. This is by far the most common type of hiatal hernia.

In a paraesophageal hiatal hernia, part of the stomach protrudes through the opening in the diaphragm alongside or next to the junction between the esophagus and stomach. This type of hernia is rare but can be more serious than a sliding hiatal hernia and requires surgical intervention to correct.

How Does a Hiatal Hernia Cause Acid Reflux?

A hiatal hernia is a condition that causes part of the stomach to protrude through the diaphragm into the chest cavity. This can cause symptoms such as heartburn and acid reflux.

The diaphragm is a muscle that separates the chest from the stomach. There is a small opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach) passes. In a hiatal hernia, part of the stomach protrudes up through this opening and into the chest cavity.

This can cause symptoms such as heartburn and acid reflux. Heartburn occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus. This can happen if the opening in the diaphragm is too large or if the muscular ring that normally keeps the stomach in place is weak or relaxed.

Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus and irritates the lining of the esophagus. This can cause pain and burning in the chest, sour taste in the mouth, difficulty swallowing, and other symptoms.

Symptoms of Acid Reflux Resulting from a Hiatal Hernia

There are a few symptoms that are commonly associated with a hiatal hernia which results in acid reflux. These symptoms include:

1) Heartburn – This is the most common symptom associated with acid reflux. Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest that can often be mistaken for a heart attack.

2) Dyspepsia – This is another common symptom and is characterized by pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen.

3) Regurgitation – This occurs when stomach contents and acid are brought back up into the throat and mouth.

4) Nausea – This can sometimes be accompanied by vomiting.

5) Belching – This is caused by the escape of air from the stomach through the esophagus.

Risk Factors and Treatment Options for Acid Reflux and/or Hiatial Hernia

Acid reflux is a condition in which the contents of the stomach are regurgitated back up into the esophagus. This can happen when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a ring of muscle that separates the stomach from the esophagus, relaxes or opens when it shouldn’t. Hiatal hernia is a condition in which part of the stomach protrudes through an opening in the diaphragm into the chest cavity. This can also cause the LES to loosen and allow acid to back up into the esophagus.

There are several risk factors for both acid reflux and hiatal hernia, including obesity, pregnancy, smoking, and certain medications. Treatment options include lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or quitting smoking, and medications, such as antacids or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Surgery is also an option for some people with severe cases of either condition.

Alternatives to Surgery

If you have a hiatal hernia, you may be able to treat it without surgery. Some lifestyle changes that can help reduce the symptoms of a hiatal hernia are:

-Eating smaller meals
-Avoiding foods that trigger acid reflux, such as spicy, fatty, or acidic foods
-Avoiding lying down within three hours of eating
-Elevating the head of your bed by 6 to 8 inches
-Wearing loose-fitting clothing

You may also be able to treat a hiatal hernia with medication. Over-the-counter antacids can help neutralize stomach acid. H2 blockers can reduce the production of stomach acid. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can also be used to reduce stomach acid production. If lifestyle changes and medications do not improve your symptoms, surgery may be an option.

Conclusion

In conclusion, a hiatal hernia occurs when part of your stomach protrudes up into your chest cavity. Not only can this cause acid reflux and associated symptoms, but it can also lead to serious health concerns if left untreated. If you have any of the signs or symptoms mentioned in this article, be sure to contact a medical professional right away for diagnosis and treatment. With proper attention and care, you can get back on track with living your best life!

 

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