Hiatal hernia is a condition in which the upper portion of the stomach protrudes into the chest cavity through an opening of the diaphragm called the esophageal hiatus. This opening usually is large enough to accommodate the esophagus alone. With weakening and enlargement however, the opening (or herniation) can allow upward passage or even entrapment of the upper stomach above the diaphragm.
There are generally two types of hiatal hernia: sliding hiatal hernias and fixed or paraesophageal hernias.
Sliding Hiatal Hernia
This is the more common type of hernia. It occurs when your stomach and esophagus slide into and out of your chest through the hiatus. Sliding hernias tend to be small. They usually don’t cause any symptoms. They may not require treatment.
Fixed Hiatal Hernia
This type of hernia isn’t as common. It is also known as a paraesophageal hernia.
In a fixed hernia, part of your stomach pushes through your diaphragm and stays there. Most cases are not serious. However, there is a risk that blood flow to your stomach could be blocked. If that happens, it could cause serious damage and is considered a medical emergency.
Suspected causes or contributing factors
Poor seated posture (such as slouching)
Straining with constipation
Frequent bending over or heavy lifting
The symptoms of hiatal hernia may include the following:
heartburn: chest pain or burning,
nausea, vomiting or retching (dry heaves)
waterbrash, the rapid appearance of a large amount of saliva in the mouth that is stimulated by the refluxing acid
Symptoms usually are worse after meals. These symptoms may be made worse when lying flat and may resolve with sitting up or walking.
The following foods are highly acidic or may weaken the lower esophageal sphincter, making it easier for stomach acids to back up into your esophagus. They may cause heartburn symptoms.
Citrus foods, such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons, and orange juice, grapefruit juice, cranberry juice, and lemonade
Fatty and fried foods, such as fried chicken and fatty cuts of meat
Garlic and onions
Peppermint and spearmint
Tomato-based foods such as spaghetti sauce, pizza, chili, salsa, and tomato juice
Coffee, tea (including decaffeinated versions), and alcohol
Dairy products, such as whole milk, ice cream, and creamed food. Try soy milk; it may be a good milk substitute. Also, mild cheeses, like feta or goat, may be enjoyed in moderation.
Oil and butter
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