Dr.Anand Patel

What is a Hiatus Hernia, and its Symptoms Guided by a Hernia Specialist

hernia specialist
hernia specialist

A hiatus hernia happens when the upper part of your stomach pushes through an opening in your diaphragm into your chest. The diaphragm is the muscle that separates your chest from your abdomen. Normally, organs and tissues stay within their designated spaces, but a hernia occurs when they push through a weak spot in the surrounding tissue. Hiatus hernias are quite common. They occur at the opening, where your esophagus passes through the diaphragm to connect to your stomach.

Often, you might not even know you have a hiatus hernia unless it’s found during an examination by a hernia specialist for another issue. However, a larger hiatus hernia can cause food and stomach acid to back up into the esophagus, leading to heartburn. Usually, lifestyle changes and medications can manage these symptoms. In more severe cases where the hernia is very large, surgery might be necessary. Let’s take a look in depth.

Types Of Hernia:

There are two main types of hiatus hernias: sliding hiatus hernias and fixed (or para esophageal) hernias.

Sliding Hiatus Hernia:

Sliding hiatus hernia is the most common type. It happens when your stomach and esophagus slide up into your chest through the hiatus. These are usually small and often don’t cause symptoms, so they may not need treatment.

Fixed Hiatus Hernia:

Fixed hiatus hernia, also known as a para esophageal hernia, this type is less common. In a fixed hernia, part of your stomach pushes through your diaphragm and stays there. While most cases aren’t serious, there’s a risk that the blood flow to your stomach could become blocked, which is a medical emergency and can cause severe damage.

Symptoms Of Hiatus Hernia:

If you have a sliding hiatus hernia, which is the most common type, you likely won’t feel the hernia itself or see a bulge on the outside. Many people with hiatus hernias don’t have symptoms. However, those who do often experience chronic acid reflux (GERD) symptoms, such as:

  • Heartburn: A burning sensation in your chest, especially after eating.
  • Non Cardiac chest pain: Recurring chest pain that feels like angina but isn’t.
  • Indigestion: Feeling full quickly with a burning pain in your abdomen.
  • Burping and regurgitation: Food, gas, and acid rise back into your throat.
  • Difficulty swallowing: A lump in your throat when you swallow.
  • Sore throat and hoarseness: Irritation from the acid causing these issues.

Not everyone with a hiatus hernia has acid reflux, and not everyone with acid reflux has a hiatus hernia. However, if you’ve been experiencing these symptoms, consult the best hernia surgeon in Ahmedabad more frequently.

Other possible warning signs of a hiatus hernia include:

  • Nausea: Due to stomach compression or acid overflow.
  • Shortness of breath: If the hernia is pressing on your lungs.
  • Pressure or pain: In your upper abdomen or lower chest.

These symptoms are more common with larger para esophageal hernias.

When to see a hernia specialist?

If you experience any of the following symptoms, it’s important to consult a hernia specialist:

  • Severe or Persistent Symptoms: Persistent heartburn, chest pain, or difficulty swallowing that doesn’t improve with over-the-counter medications or lifestyle changes.
  • Emergency Symptoms: If you suffer from blood vomiting, black stools, severe chest pain, or difficulty breathing, it could indicate a serious complication that requires immediate consultation with the best hernia surgeon in Ahmedabad.
  • Chronic Symptoms: If you have ongoing symptoms that affect your quality of life, a hernia specialist can help determine the best treatment options.

Seeing a hernia specialist ensures you receive a proper diagnosis and effective treatment plan, preventing complications and improving your overall well-being.

Diagnosis of hiatus hernia:

A surgeon for hernia diagnoses hiatus hernias by examining images of the esophagus and stomach. They may use various imaging tests to get a clear view and accurate diagnosis. Sometimes, these hernias are found by accident during tests for other issues. Generally, if you have symptoms of acid reflux, a hernia specialist will start with an esophageal pH test to check for acid in your esophagus. If acid is present, they will follow up with imaging tests to find the cause. Here are the common tests used to diagnose a hiatal hernia:

  • Chest X-ray: This uses radiation to take still, black-and-white images of the inside of your chest cavity where your esophagus is located.
  • Esophagram: This video X-ray captures real-time images of your esophagus in action, showing how it works when you swallow.
  • Upper Endoscopy: A tiny camera on the end of a long tube is used to view the inside of your esophagus and stomach, projecting live images onto a screen.
  • Esophageal Manometry: A catheter inside your esophagus measures muscle pressure and creates a topographical pressure map from the data.

These tests help hernia specialist accurately diagnose hiatus hernias and determine the best treatment options.

Treatment options for hiatus hernia:

Treatment for a hiatus hernia may include:

Lifestyle Changes:

  • Weight Loss: Losing weight can reduce pressure on your stomach and diaphragm.
  • Eating Habits: Eating a small amount and more frequent meals can help manage symptoms.
  • Diet: Avoid foods and drinks that trigger symptoms, such as spicy foods, citrus, and caffeine.
  • Posture: Not lying down immediately after eating can prevent acid reflux.


  • Antacids: These can neutralise stomach acid and provide quick relief.
  • H2 Receptor Blockers: These reduce the amount of acid your stomach produces.
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs): These medications block acid production and help heal the esophagus.


  • Severe Cases: Surgery may be necessary for para esophageal hernias, especially.
  • Procedure: The surgery involves repositioning the stomach and repairing the diaphragm to prevent the hernia from recurring.

These treatments can help manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for those with a hiatus hernia.

Wrapping Up:

In conclusion, a hiatus hernia occurs when part of the stomach pushes through the diaphragm into the chest, often causing symptoms related to acid reflux. Diagnosis involves various imaging tests and treatment options ranging from lifestyle changes and medications to surgery in severe cases. Proper management, including weight loss, dietary adjustments, and medications, can relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. Consulting with the best hernia surgeon in Ahmedabad for persevering or severe symptoms is essential for effective treatment.

Dr. Anand Patel

Dr. Anand Patel

Dr. Anand Patel, holding an MS and DNB in Surgical Gastroenterology, as well as an FMBS in Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery, authors this article on the website. He ensures all information is sourced from reliable research conducted by himself and fellow specialists, providing authentic insights and expertise.