Hiatal Hernia (cont.)
Hiatal Hernia Symptoms
For most people, a hiatal hernia by itself causes no symptoms.
- Chest pain or pressure
- Difficulty swallowing
- Pain: At times, a hiatal hernia causes chest pain or upper abdominal pain when the stomach becomes trapped above the diaphragm through the narrow esophageal hiatus.
- Other causes: Rarely, with a fixed hiatal hernia, the blood supply is cut off to the trapped portion of the stomach, causing great pain and serious illness. This is called a strangulated hiatal hernia, and it is a true medical emergency.
- Hiatal hernia also causes symptoms of discomfort when it is associated with a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly called GERD. This condition is characterized by upwelling of stomach acids and digestive enzymes into the esophagus through a weakened sphincter that is supposed to act as a one-way valve between the esophagus and stomach. Hiatal hernia is thought to contribute to the weakening of this sphincter muscle.
- Although it is true that hiatal hernia or GERD can cause chest pain similar to angina (or heart pain) including chest pressure that can radiate to the arm or neck, do not assume that such pain is caused by the less serious condition of the two. When in doubt, it is safer to be seen by a doctor immediately in order to rule out more serious problems first.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/23/2014
Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Must Read Articles Related to Hiatal Hernia
Acid Reflux Disease (GERD)
Acid reflux (GERD) is caused by acid backing up from the stomach. Causes of acid reflux include smoking, obesity, alcohol, medications, diet, and other medical ...learn more >>
Barium swallow is a test used to determine causes of painful or difficulty swallowing, and diseases such as GERD, hiatal hernia, ulcers, dysphagia, tumors, or p...learn more >>
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) FAQs
Acid reflux (GERD) is caused by lifestyle factors (alcohol, obesity), medication, diet, medical conditions, and eating habits. Symptoms of acid reflux (GERD) in...learn more >>
Patient Comments & Reviews
The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Hiatal Hernia: