What Is Small Hiatal Hernia?

Small Hiatal Hernia

Any time that a body part moves or is pushed into an area that is does not belong, it is known as a hernia. When this occurrence involves the stomach and its movement or bulging through the opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus runs called the hiatus, it is called a hiatal hernia. Most persons who have the condition have what is called a sliding small hiatal hernia. Not only is it the most common type of the condition, it is also the one that is the least worrisome and produces the least amount of symptoms, if any.

There are two different hiatal hernia types and four stages that increase based on severity. A stage one sliding hiatal hernia is the least complicated of the types. This means that the part of the stomach where the esophagus attaches has bulged through the hiatus ever so slightly. Essentially, the resulting condition looks a bit like a ball sitting on top of the diaphragm. From this ball upwards extends the esophagus. This description of a small hiatal hernia is the most common, and it is what the majority of the one in five people who have the condition are afflicted with. Stage two hiatal hernias involve those known as “rolling” or paraesophageal hernias. They are characterized by the stomach rolling up next to the esophagus instead of resting below it on the diaphragm. Far fewer cases of these exist amidst much more predominant cases of a single small hiatal hernia.

The last two stages of the condition are more related to severity rather than standing alone as separate types. A stage three condition, for instance might refer to simply a very large hiatal hernia or one that is a combination sliding / rolling hernia. Further, unlike the simplicity found in the case of a small hiatal hernia, those that are in stage four include another organ into the mix, or extreme severity or seriousness.

Like any other type of hernia, it is not always easy to determine just what caused it. Many things are considered potential causes of hiatal hernia development including coughing, strenuous bowel movements, sudden injury, pregnancy, obesity, smoking, alcohol use, drug use, stress and vomiting. Other potential causes of hiatal hernia development are underlying and even harder to detect including genetics and physiological factors such as a naturally weaker diaphragm. Especially in the case of a simple and small hiatal hernia, everyday activities can contribute to the condition’s development. It is for these reasons, interestingly enough, that many hiatal hernias go completely undiagnosed and are found unintentionally during other diagnostic testing or evaluation for unrelated problems, symptoms or health maintenance. It is not uncommon for a hiatal hernia diagnosis to be completely missed until certain diagnostic procedures confirm its presence.

What is perhaps most intriguing is that a vast majority of persons with a small hiatal hernia do not experience any symptoms at all. In fact, hiatal hernias in general do not produce symptoms unless complications are present. When symptoms do present, they are often not a result of the hernia, rather a consequence of stomach acid related ailments like heartburn. The relationship between acid reflux and a small hiatal hernia is a complex one. Some people have acid reflux without having a hiatal hernia. Yet, many people with a hiatal hernia have symptoms related to stomach acid. In most cases, this is likely because the valve that keeps stomach acid where it belongs and prevents it from moving up the esophagus moves a little or shifts a little when a small hiatal hernia is present, making it easier for a backup to occur.

If there are no present symptoms, then it is likely that there is no need for any type of hiatal hernia treatment in the case of a mild form of the condition or a hernia that is small. However, even a small hiatal hernia can produce symptoms, and in these cases, medications like proton pump inhibitors and H2 receptor blockers are often used to reduce the amount of acid that the stomach produces. Prescription medications are not always necessary though, and many people find that a diet for hiatal hernia symptom relief is more than adequate, or that it is incredibly useful alongside other treatment methods. These types of diets reduce high acid foods, spicy and greasy foods, fatty and oily foods and sugary and carbonated foods with whole grains, no fat dairy, low acid produce and lean meats. For some people, a diet for hiatal hernia symptom relief can be just as if not more effective than medications.

A small hiatal hernia is rarely a serious condition and is often easily treated with home care, natural healing options, lifestyle remedies, over the counter remedies or prescription medicines. All hiatal hernias however require diagnosis and treatment advice from a health care provider. This is in order to rule out the risk of serious complications that can lead to dangerous or life threatening conditions.