A hernia is best described as a protrusion of an internal organ or a body part through an opening into an area where the organ is not usually present. The opening can result to weakness of the tissue, muscle or membrane that normally holds the organ in place.
Hernias develop more frequently in certain parts of the body including the upper thigh, abdomen and groin. A hiatal hernia is termed for the hiatus which is the diaphragm gap amidst the chest area and the abdomen. It is important to note that the esophagus passes via the hiatus and connects to the stomach. When it comes to a hiatal hernia, a region of the stomach in which the esophagus connects to the stomach passes via the opening and into the chest.
Types of hiatal hernia
There are two types of hiatal hernias – paraesophageal hiatal hernia and sliding hiatal hernia. A paraesophageal hiatal hernia develops once the gastroesophageal junction stays in its place while part of the stomach bulges via the opening into the chest. The indications of this hernia are more likely to be severe in most cases. As for a sliding hiatal hernia, a part of the gastroesophageal junction and stomach protrudes via the opening.
What are the general symptoms?
The indications of hiatal hernia include the sensation of pain or pressure in the chest. Hiccups, coughing as well as belching can be experienced by the individual suffering from the condition. In some cases, there is also heartburn along with difficulty swallowing. In most cases, there might be no symptoms at all.
In some cases, the symptoms progressively worsen until medical care is required. Hiatal hernias can also contribute to acid reflux which is characterized by heartburn. It is the burning sensation in the rear part of the throat, regurgitation and the feeling of uncomfortable fullness after a meal has been eaten.
Strangulated hiatal hernia
When it comes to a paraesophageal hiatal hernia, it can become trapped in the chest area and could no longer return to the abdomen. If this occurs, there is a possibility for the supply of blood to the hernia to be cut off which is called as strangulation. If there is not enough oxygen being supplied by the blood, the strangulated regions will start to die off. Once this occurs, there is abrupt pain in the chest area that the individual will describe as a sharp pain. In some cases, it can also be accompanied by difficulty swallowing. Always bear in mind that this is an urgent medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention.
It is important for the individual to seek immediate medical care if a hiatal hernia is suspected so that proper assessment or evaluation can be carried out. The doctor will provide the appropriate treatment options to prevent the condition from worsening. If you want to learn more about the management of hernias, click here.