What is a hiatus hernia?
A hiatus hernia is a common condition where a part of the stomach slides or protrudes from the abdomen into the chest. Most hiatus hernias don’t cause any problems, but some – especially large hiatus hernias – cause symptoms such as heartburn. There are treatments available, including self-help measures, medicines and surgery.
How is a hiatus hernia diagnosed?
The most common symptoms caused by hiatus hernia are usually those due to gastro-oesophageal reflux. For this reason, hiatus hernia is often hard to tell apart from reflux just based on symptoms.
It’s important to not assume that you have a hiatus hernia based on symptoms alone. Always see your doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Hiatus hernia is most commonly diagnosed when doctors do an endoscopy to investigate reflux, or when a barium X-ray has been performed. The hiatus hernia can show up as a bulge that is positioned between the oesophagus and your stomach. Large hiatus hernias can be observed on plain chest X-rays.
How is a hiatus hernia treated?
In most cases, symptoms from a hiatus hernia can be kept under control with medicines and lifestyle changes that treat gastro-oesophageal reflux — your doctor can help you with these.
Surgery is normally only required if your symptoms become worse and more constant. Rolling, or para-oesophageal, hernias are more likely to require surgery than sliding hiatus hernias.