What Is Large Hiatal Hernia?

Large Hiatal Hernia

A hiatal hernia is a condition in which part of the stomach herniates or, moves to a place it does not belong, through the hiatus – an opening in the diaphragm that separates the abdomen from the chest cavity. In almost all cases, the area of the stomach that slips or is pushed through this opening is very little, a condition known as a sliding, small hiatal hernia. However, this is not always the case and every now and again, the part of the stomach that has passed through the diaphragm’s opening is much bigger than it should be. When this occurs, the condition is known as a large hiatal hernia. When hiatal hernias are larger than is average, they are more likely to bring about hiatal hernia symptoms and complications as a result.

Size does matter, especially in the case of a hiatal hernia. This is because the larger a hiatal hernia is, the more likely it is that the stomach’s undigested goodies and volatile, sloshing acids will make their way into the esophagus where they do not belong. The sphincter separating the stomach and esophagus might also be compromised, weak, or otherwise less than perfectly functional in the case of a large hiatal hernia, furthering the risk for acid related symptoms to present. And, although it may seem unusual, all hiatal hernia pain symptoms are actually related to stomach acid, not the hernia itself. Because of stomach acid’s entrance into the esophagus, pain can occur. The reason that pain occurs when acid backs up into the esophagus is that while the stomach is lined with protective layers that keep it safe from the acid’s corrosive effects, the esophagus is not so lined and therefore exposure to stomach acid whether a result directly or indirectly from a large hiatal hernia can cause pain, irritation and inflammation.

What can also contribute to the severity and frequency of symptoms is also what type of hernia is present. A large hiatal hernia on its own can definitely cause stomach acid related symptoms. However, a more serious type of hernia can also lead to symptoms, as is sometimes the case with a condition known as a paraesophageal hernia. Regardless of size, there are two different hiatal hernia types. The most common is known as a sliding hiatal hernia, and it occurs when the part of the stomach that connects to the esophagus simply bulges out of the hiatus. The other type is called a rolling or paraesophageal hiatal hernia. These occur when the stomach rolls alongside the esophagus instead of settling underneath it.

A large hiatal hernia, particularly one that is more complicated than the sliding form of the condition, is more likely than smaller versions to produce symptoms. Hiatal hernia symptoms can include heartburn, coughing, burping, discomfort, pain, vomiting and more. Because many of these symptoms can be related to other gastrointestinal conditions, it is incredibly important to ensure that a hiatal hernia diagnosis comes from a medical professional who has also ruled out the possibility of other health conditions that might be contributing to symptom formation.

Once a large hiatal hernia has been identified, treatment options can be considered. In rare cases, surgery or repair might be required in order to properly treat a hiatal hernia. This is more likely in cases where the hernia is very large. It is also much more likely if the hernia is rolling or if it is at risk of becoming strangulated. This complication refers to the supply of blood to the stomach being cut off, and can be a medical emergency. Most treatment for hiatal hernia symptom relief is not this extreme, however. Many people find that lifestyle changes such as sleeping in an elevated position and working out more are very helpful. Others find that dietary changes such as the elimination of fatty, oily, spicy, carbonated and caffeinated foods and addition of more whole, fat free and low acid foods can make a world of difference. Some people choose to take other treatment paths and use natural options like herbs and acupuncture. Regardless of methodology, many times the use of prescription medicine is necessary in order to reduce acid volume. This may occur in conjunction with other types of treatment for a large hiatal hernia. Oftentimes, a combination approach is enough to reduce or eliminate symptoms related to a hiatal hernia and promote better overall health, too.