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Hiatal Hernia

 

Hiatal hernia is a condition when a part of the stomach pushes into the chest through the opening in the diaphragm.

Causes
Causes are not clear but risk factors include:

  • Heredity
  • Congenital defects
  • Heavy lifting
  • Pregnancy
  • Straining while bowel movements
  • Obesity
  • Bad posture
  • Smoking
  • Severe vomiting
  • Persistent coughing

Symptoms
Small hernias usually do not cause symptoms. Large hernias may have symptoms like:

  • Heartburn
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty in swallowing

Treatment
Treatment is not required if symptoms are absent. Otherwise treatment may include:

  • Lifestyle changes like having smaller meals, sleeping with head elevated, diet changes etc.
  • Medications like antacids, H-2 blockers, PPIs
  • Surgery when the above are not useful

Prevention

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid straining
  • Avoid heavy lifting
  • Avoid smoking
  • Avoid bad posture