People of any age or gender can develop a hiatal hernia, a condition in which the top of your stomach bulges through an opening in your diaphragm.
Small hernias are usually asymptomatic, but a large hernia allows food and acid to back up your esophagus, causing heartburn and other uncomfortable symptoms.
If you find yourself regularly struggling with acid reflux, don’t be quick to assume it’s GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). It could be a sign of a hiatal hernia.
Here are the five signs of a hiatal hernia that our team here at Lakeland Surgical Clinic, PLLC, located in Jackson, Mississippi, wants you to be aware of.
With a hiatal hernia, your stomach pushes up through the opening in the diaphragm, where your esophagus runs. That can make you regurgitate food or liquids into your mouth, causing a backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus, and bringing on sensations of burning in your chest.
2. Chest pain
Chest pain is a common symptom of a hiatal hernia. The discomfort can be so intense that you might feel as if you’re having a heart attack. It’s essential to get immediate medical help when you have chest pain to rule out other causes, even if you suspect it’s a hiatal hernia.
3. Feeling full soon after eating
Your stomach pushing upwards means it’s slightly pinched, so you might feel full faster, even though you haven’t eaten a lot.
4. Shortness of breath
The diaphragm is your largest breathing muscle. When your hernia pushes on it or compresses the lungs, you might have trouble catching your breath.
5. Bloating or belching
The pressure on your stomach and extra acid in your esophagus can make you feel bloated. You may burp often as your system tries to process your last meal.
Get help right away
Passing black stool or vomiting blood indicates that you may have a hernia causing intestinal bleeding. Anytime you have these symptoms, it’s essential to get checked out by a qualified provider, like our team at Lakeland Surgical Clinic, PLLC.
Reasons why a hiatal hernia developed
While anyone can develop a hiatal hernia, they’re especially common in people older than 50 and people with weight challenges.
You’re more vulnerable to developing a hiatal hernia if you have had injury, trauma, or surgery in the abdominal region. Some people are genetically predisposed to developing a hiatal hernia because they were born with a large hiatus.
Your habits and lifestyle can also play a role. Persistent and intense pressure on the surrounding muscles, like when coughing, straining during passing stool, or vomiting, can cause pressure on the surrounding muscles, so the hiatal hernia develops. If you exercise vigorously or lift heavy objects, you’re also at greater risk.
Treatment for a hiatal hernia
In most cases, people can manage hiatal hernia pain and discomfort with medications and minor lifestyle adjustments. If you have an especially large or uncomfortable hernia, you may need surgical repair.
If you suspect you may have a hiatal hernia that needs treatment, our team at Lakeland Surgical Clinic, PLLC, in Jackson, Mississippi is ready to help. Call the office or use this website to set up an appointment today. We want to help you with all issues concerning your digestive health.