What Are Hiatal Hernia Causes and What It May Cause?

Hiatal Hernia Causes

A hiatal hernia is a very common condition that may affect as many as one in five people. It occurs when the upper part of the stomach that connects to the esophagus moves or is pushed through the opening in the diaphragm known as the hiatus. While there are many different hiatal hernia causes, it is often difficult to tell which one contributed to the condition’s formation once it is already present. There are few to no hiatal hernia symptoms in most individuals, however some experience GERD related discomfort and others may experience further complications.

One of the most common causes of hiatal hernia presence is simple physiology. Some people naturally have a weaker connection between the esophagus and surrounding areas, which makes it easier for the stomach to move into an abnormal position. A more common culprit among hiatal hernia causes however is simple force. Everything from strenuous physical activity to a particularly forceful bowel movement may contribute to the formation of a hiatal hernia. In fact, even severe bouts of coughing could be hiatal hernia causes in some individuals. Additionally, there are some health conditions that might be responsible for causing a small hiatal hernia, such as a buildup of ascites in the abdomen, adhesions and obstructions.

Some people never experience any symptoms at all as a result of having a hiatal hernia. When people do experience symptoms, they are most commonly attributed to GERD, the backing up of stomach acid into the esophagus. The stomach is lined with very protective tissues that protect it from the corrosive acid it produces. But, the delicate esophagus is not so lined. As a result, when stomach acid makes its way into the esophagus, painful symptoms may result. It is important to note, however, that acid reflux back ups are not amongst hiatal hernia causes, the physical condition itself does not cause GERD. It does, however, make it easier for stomach acid to back up. Because the sphincter that is responsible for keeping acid in its place can become displaced and not properly angled in persons with a hiatal hernia, the protection it offers can be lessened and acid can more easily travel upwards where it does not belong.

Because it is not uncommon that a hiatal hernia causes heartburn related symptoms indirectly in some individuals, it is no surprise that treatment options are often focused on reducing the amount of acid that is available to back up. Reducing acid volume can decrease the chance of it backing up into the esophagus. Medications like proton pump inhibitors and H2 receptor blockers therefore are often the most commonly used hiatal hernia remedies, although it is important to note that they do not actually treat the condition or impact any underlying hiatal hernia causes, they simply reduce the likelihood of further acid backups. Sometimes, these medications are successful and people with the condition experience no further symptoms. In other cases, they may not be enough and dietary changes, lifestyle changes and natural healing options might be considered. Of these, diet is likely the best line of defense for when a hiatal hernia causes GERD related symptoms. By adding in whole grains, low acid produce, fat free dairy and changing food preparation methods to reduce spices and eliminate fats and oils, many people find a reduction in symptoms. Perhaps more importantly, abstaining from known hiatal hernia foods to avoid like hot sauce, onions and garlic and oils and fats are what make the dietary changes very successful.

Aside from uncomfortable symptoms related to stomach acid, there are some less common although much more serious conditions that a hiatal hernia causes in some individuals. This often is determined by the type of hernia that is present. If a paraesophageal hernia exists, or a stage four hernia in which another organ, typically the colon, is involved, the condition calls for immediate hiatal hernia repair most of the time. Not only can the symptoms be much more severe in these cases, but they can also be considered medical emergencies. A large hiatal hernia for instance can lead to the strangulation of intestines. When this occurs, the supply of blood can be cut off leading to a very serious complication.

The majority of the time, hiatal hernias are small and sufferers exhibit no symptoms. When they do, they are almost always related to stomach acid and its effects on the esophagus. Hiatal hernias are often caused by force or pressure, but may be a result of physiology. Complications can develop that require immediate medical attention, but regardless, medical care and advice are critical to successfully managing a hiatal hernia. Medications, lifestyle changes and natural healing options all can make living with the condition much easier.