What is Hiatal hernia?
Hiatal hernia is the projection or protrusion of the stomach into the thorax through the diaphragm hiatus which may due to a fistula or tear. One of the first major symptoms of hiatal hernia is heart burn and heart palpitations which is noticeable when lying down.
Hiatal hernia pain is usually a dull pain chest region, caused by acid reflux from the gastric cavity. It affects how you breathe, due to the innervation or irritation of the Vagus nerve.
There are two main types of hernia- sliding and para-esophageal hernia but the commonest one is the sliding type.
There are several risk factors that may predispose anyone to having hiatal hernia such as obesity, stress and over-weight and patients who are the age of 50years. Heavy smokers and alcoholics also are at a higher risk of having hernia. During birth some infants are born with large hiatal opening thus predisposing such babies to have digestive disorders frequently.
Hiatal hernia can be diagnosed via endoscopy.
According to Dr. Denis Burkitt, Hiatal hernia is prevalent in developed countries of North America and Western Europe. He also noted that the common risk factors for hiatal hernia are unnatural sitting position while defecating and inadequate dietary fiber content. One of the hiatal hernia symptoms you first notice when you don’t have enough dietary fiber content in your foods is that you strain while stooling, this may create intra-abdominal pressure on the stomach content.
A study has suggest that up to a quarter of people being investigated for indigestion (dyspepsia) are discovered to have a hiatus hernia.
Patients with this condition are usually asymptomatic which means no treatment is required but in cases where hiatal hernia pain is persistent, causing discomfort, and if you start noticing frequent heart burn which gets worse, it is time to call your doctor.
What are the symptoms of hiatal hernia?
The following list details hiatal hernia symptoms as follows:
- Nausea and vomiting. Vomiting may accompany heavy foods.
- Inability to pass wind, restricted bowel movement and inability to empty your bowel due to intestinal obstructions.
- Coughing and fever.
- Severe chest pain and epigastric pain (this is very common in pregnant women). Sometimes hiatal hernia may mimic the symptoms of heart attack.
- Persistent heart burn due to acid reflux.
- Inability to swallow foods. In advance cases, where the hiatus becomes wider, heart burn complications may make swallowing foods hard due to frequent burning sensation on the esophageal wall.
- Shortness of breath.
- Dark starry stools.
- This is most noticeable after consuming carbohydrate-rich foods.
- You feel too full after little meal.
- Feeling of hoarseness in the throat, which may be accompanied with sore throat occasionally.
- In complicated cases, you may have pulmonary aspiration and internal bleeding
If symptomatic hiatal hernia is not treated urgently, it may lead to barret’s esophagus, a condition which may serve as a precursor to esophageal cancer.