Hiatal Hernia

If it grows large enough, a hiatal hernia can cause persistent symptoms, including heartburn and acid reflux, that interfere with your daily activities and livelihood. In many instances, hiatal hernias can be successfully treated with medications and/or surgery.

Here’s more about symptoms and treatments and how to contact Advanced Laparoscopic Associates if you think you have a hiatal hernia.

What Is an Hiatal Hernia?

A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of your stomach pushes through your diaphragm and into your chest.

The diaphragm is located in the muscle wall that separates your chest from your abdominal cavity. It has a small opening called a hiatus. Through this opening, your esophagus passes food to your stomach. If you have a hiatal hernia, your stomach will push up through the hiatus and into your chest.

What Causes a Hiatal Hernia?

Weakened muscle tissue can easily allow for the upper part of the stomach to push through the diaphragm to cause a hiatal hernia. Potential causes include:

  • A persistent increase in pressure in the abdominal cavity, which may occur when coughing, vomiting or lifting heavy objects
  • Straining during a bowel movement
  • Injury to the area surrounding the hiatus, such as from surgery or trauma
  • Age-related changes to your diaphragm
  • Pregnancy
  • Being overweight or obese

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of a hiatal hernia usually only occur when the hernia becomes large enough to irritate or put pressure on nearby organs and structures. When this happens, symptoms may include:

  • Heartburn
  • Acid reflux
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Bitter, sour, or unpleasant taste at the back of your throat
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Belching
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling full shortly after eating
  • Vomiting of blood
  • Bloody stool, which may cause stool to look black

How Is a Hiatal Hernia Treated?

A hiatal hernia usually only requires treatment when it is large enough to cause symptoms. Medications and surgery are the most common treatments.

Medications may be used to neutralize stomach acid, reduce acid reflux or block acid production to allow for any damaged tissue in your esophagus to heal. Your provider may also recommend making lifestyle changes that can help you manage symptoms of acid reflux, such as eating smaller portion sizes, avoiding acidic foods and wearing loose clothing that reduces pressure on your abdominal area.

Surgery usually involves reducing the size of the opening in your diaphragm or pulling the part of your bulging stomach back down into your abdomen. Your provider may recommend combining hiatal hernia surgery with a weight-loss surgery if excess weight is contributing to your condition.

When Is Surgery Needed?

Hiatal hernia surgery may be needed when medications and lifestyle changes do not effectively reduce symptoms. Surgery may also be needed when the esophagus has been narrowed to the point it is cutting off blood supply to the upper part of the stomach.

If you have a hiatal hernia, your provider will work closely with you to treat it and may recommend surgery if all other non-surgical treatments fail to improve your condition.

How Is Surgery Performed?

Surgery can be performed as open surgery through a single, large incision in your chest or as laparoscopic surgery through several tiny incisions in your chest. Laparoscopic surgery is far less invasive than open surgery and produces fewer complications and less downtime and recovery.

During surgery, your surgeon will pull the hernia back into your abdomen, repair the valve at the bottom of your esophagus and close the hole that was made in your diaphragm. Your surgeon can discuss the nature of your surgery in greater detail based on your unique situation.

Advanced Laparoscopic Associates offers a wide range of weight-loss and general surgeries. If you think you have a hiatal hernia, contact us today to request an appointment and discuss your treatment options.

Call (201) 646-1121 today and schedule your consultation with one of our surgeons!


Or use our online Request an Appointment form.


Call Us Appointment Request