Also called: Paraesophageal Hernia; Sliding Hiatal Hernia
A hiatal hernia is caused by the upper portion of the stomach pushing through the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. The diaphragm has a hole through which our food tube (esophagus) passes. Sometimes, the esophagus and stomach bulge through this opening called the hiatus and put us at risk for several health issues.
Hiatal hernias are divided into two groups.
- Paraesophageal hernias are when a part of the stomach or the esophagus bulge into the diaphragm. This condition is less common, and may not cause any symptoms for long periods.
- Sliding hiatal hernias happen when the connection of the esophagus and stomach slides up through the hiatus and stays there. This is the more common type of hiatal hernia and may be found in as many as 1 in 4 adults by age 40.
Paraesophageal hernias may not need to be fixed if there are no symptoms or discomfort. Sliding hiatal hernias may need to be repaired when changes to your diet, lifestyle (losing weight, not eating late into the night, sleeping on an incline or upright) and acid-reducing medications no longer control symptoms.