Whati is a Hiatal Hernia?

A hiatal hernia occurs when part of your stomach pushes upward through your diaphragm, the thin breathing muscle that separates the lung cavity from the abdominal cavity. Normally your esophagus passes through a small opening (hiatus) in the diaphragm and connects with the stomach below the diaphragm. When the stomach pushes up through the hiatus, it creates an hiatal hernia.

Hiatal Hernia Symptoms

In most cases, a small hiatal hernia does not cause problems, and you may never know you have an hiatal hernia unless your doctor discovers it when checking for another condition (e.g. having a chest x-ray or undergoing an upper endoscopy). An hiatal hernia may contribute to acid reflux disease since the presence of the hernia can compromise the lower esophageal sphincter. A large hiatal hernia can affect one’s ability to eat a full meal and may lead to aspiration of stomach contents.

Hiatal Hernia Treatment

Being attentive to dietary habits or medications can help to relieve symptoms related to an hiatal hernia. Dietary habits that may be helpful include avoiding large meals, not eating within 3 hours of going to bed or lying down, and avoiding acidic foods and beverages. On occasion, surgery is required to treat an hiatal hernia.

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The board-certified physicians at San Francisco Gastroenterology are specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders affecting the digestive tract, including hiatal hernia. Our doctors serve from Marin County, Oakland, Berkeley, Palo Alto and the entire San Francisco Bay Area. Our goal is simply to provide the highest quality medical care and patient service possible.

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