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Hiatal Hernia

Hiatal Hernia Overview

Hiatal hernia is a condition in which the upper portion of the stomach protrudes into the chest cavity through an opening of the diaphragm called the esophageal hiatus. This opening usually is large enough to accommodate the esophagus alone. With weakening and enlargement however, the opening (or herniation) can allow upward passage or even entrapment of the upper stomach above the diaphragm.

  • Hiatal hernia is a common condition. By age 60, up to 60% of people have it to some degree.
  • There are 2 types of hiatal hernia.
    • The sliding type, as its name implies, occurs when the junction between the stomach and esophagus slides up through the esophageal hiatus during moments of increased pressure in the abdominal cavity. When the pressure is relieved, the stomach falls back down with gravity to its normal position.
    • The fixed type (or paraesophageal) implies that there is no sliding up and down. A portion of the stomach remains stuck in the chest cavity.

Hiatal Hernia Causes

Suspected causes or contributing factors

  • Obesity
  • Poor seated posture (such as slouching)
  • Frequent coughing
  • Straining with constipation
  • Frequent bending over or heavy lifting
  • Heredity
  • Smoking
  • Congenital defects
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/7/2014
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Hiatal Hernia »

A hiatal hernia occurs when a portion of the stomach prolapses through the diaphragmatic esophageal hiatus.

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