The herniation or protrusion of the upper section of the stomach, through a small opening in the diaphragm called the hiatus, into the thorax is referred to in medical terms as hiatal hernia.
Nearly 15 percent of all adults suffer from this condition. Obesity, lifting heavy weights, straining while passing stools are few of the causative factors which can bring about hiatal hernia.
9 Symptoms of Hiatal Hernia
Individuals with a small hiatal hernia may not experience any major health complication. However, if the hiatal hernia is large, it can result in a variety of health problems including constant heartburn and GERD. Some of the common symptoms of this condition have been described below.
People with hiatal hernia may experience difficulty while swallowing food. Dysphagia is the medical term used to describe the trouble or difficulty which a person may experience while swallowing food. Dysphagia brought about by hiatal hernia can lead to severe acid reflux and subsequent heartburn.
People with large hiatal hernia often complain of a burning sensation directly below their breastbone.This burning sensation is brought about by the stomach acids leaching into the esophagus and irritating the delicate tissue lining. The heartburn symptoms in hiatal hernia patients may last anywhere from a couple of minutes to a few hours.
If the acid reflux problem is left untreated, it can lead to further health complications in the long run. Over a period of time, the stomach acids can eat away the delicate lining of the esophagus.
People whose esophageal lining is damaged by their stomach acids may experience a persistent cough, which is often accompanied by blood tinged sputum.
When the upper portion of the stomach protrudes into the esophagus, which is the classic indication of hiatal hernia, it can cause great difficulty in swallowing food.
This blockage in the esophagus can either lead to food being regurgitated into the mouth or vomiting. Individuals with hiatal hernia often complain of a sensation of something remaining lodged in the esophagus immediately after eating food.
When the stomach acids leach backwards through the esophagus into the mouth it can cause an extremely unpleasant sour taste. This sour taste in the mouth can even kill a person’s appetite.
Another negative side effect of hiatal hernia is a change in voice quality or the voice becoming extremely hoarse. The voice becomes hoarse due to the irritation of the vocal cords caused by the acid reflux.
Persistent or Recurring Hiccups
People with hiatal hernia may suffer from persistent or recurring hiccups. The recurring hiccups are brought about by the stomach acids leaching into the esophagus and irritating the delicate esophageal lining.
Acute Chest Pain
People with hiatal hernia often complain of severe chest pain. The chest pain is brought about by the protrusion of the stomach into the diaphragm leading to a sudden bloackage in the blood supply to the stomach.
People with hiatal hernia may develop a chronic cough especially at night. This chronic night cough is brought about by the stomach acids leaching into the esophagus and into the lungs.
Along with chronic cough, hiatal hernia patients may also develop a persistent wheeze. These individuals are twice as likely to develop pneumonia as well.