A hiatus hernia is a common condition affecting around 7 million people in the United States. It is a small hole in the diaphragm or abdominal wall.
The diaphragm is a muscle located in the chest wall that helps you breathe. The abdomen is the large cavity that holds the organs of the abdomen. The hiatus is a small opening in the diaphragm.
A hiatus hernia can cause pain in the chest area. It can also cause pain or discomfort in the back, hips, and groin. The pain can also radiate to the shoulder.
What are the symptoms of a hiatus hernia?
The symptoms of a hiatus hernia can vary depending on the size of the hernia.
- Slight pain or discomfort in the chest area
- Swelling of the abdominal area
- Pain that is worse when coughing or laughing
- Pain that worsens with movement
- Pain or discomfort in the back, hips and groin
- Pain that shoots down the leg
- Pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen or groin
- Feeling full and bloated when eating
- Nausea and vomiting
How is a hiatus hernia diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. They will perform a physical examination to check the size and shape of your abdomen.
Your doctor can also perform a barium enema to diagnose a hiatus hernia. This test involves feeding a chalky substance called barium into your rectum to help it pass through your digestive tract.
An X-ray or CT scan can also help your doctor diagnose a hiatus hernia. A CT scan uses X-rays to create a series of images. This type of scan can help your doctor see the size and location of the hernia.
How is a hiatus hernia treated?
It is important to treat a hiatus hernia as soon as possible. Hernias that are not treated can get bigger and cause more problems.
The type of treatment a doctor recommends will depend on many factors. These include:
- The severity of the hernia
- Whether you have symptoms
- Other medical conditions you may have
- Your age
- Your overall health
Hernia repair surgery is the only way to treat a hiatus hernia. This involves inserting a mesh into the hole. The mesh acts as a scaffold to hold the hole together. It also helps the hole close.
The type of surgery required will depend on the size of the hernia and the severity of the symptoms.
For smaller hernias, a surgeon may be able to repair the hernia with a laparoscopic procedure. This involves using a thin tube with a light and tiny tools.
For larger hernias, your doctor may recommend open surgery. This involves making an incision over the hernia. The hernia is then repaired.
What is the long-term outlook?
Most people with a hiatus hernia will not have symptoms. However, the condition can cause serious problems. Surgery to repair the hernia is usually successful.
Hernias can also cause problems with the organs that are contained in the abdomen. If you have a large hernia that is not treated, you may need to have your stomach removed. This is called a gastric bypass surgery.
Risks of hiatus hernia
Hernia repair surgery is relatively safe and effective. However, it can have some risks.
The following are the most common risks of this surgery. However, each risk requires a different treatment approach.
Potential complications of a hiatus hernia repair surgery include:
- Damage to nearby organs or structures
- Pain that gets worse with activity
- Nerve injury
Talk with your doctor about the risks. They can help you decide whether this surgery is the right treatment for you.
How can a hiatus hernia be prevented?
A hiatus hernia is common and can be treated. However, there are some things you can do to help prevent it.
- Maintaining a healthy weight. This is important for everyone. Excess weight puts more pressure on your abdomen and can make a hernia more likely.
- Eating a healthy diet. This includes lots of fruits and vegetables. It also includes eating a lot of protein.
- Not smoking. Smoking increases your risk of a hernia.
- Not drinking alcohol.
- Not lifting heavy weights.
Outlook of a hiatus hernia
Most people will not have symptoms. However, a hernia can cause serious problems if it is not treated.
If your symptoms are mild, your doctor may recommend watchful waiting. This means you will be monitored for any signs of a hernia. If you have a hernia, you will need surgery to repair it.
The outlook will depend on the type of hernia you have. Some people will not need any treatment. However, others may need surgery.
When should I call my doctor?
If you experience any of the symptoms outlined above, call your doctor.
You should also call your doctor if you have a previous history of a hiatus hernia.
You should call your doctor if you have a previous history of a hiatus hernia and have not had surgery. It is important that you are monitored for any signs of a hernia.
What questions should I ask my doctor?
A lot of questions are related to the health of your hernia. It is important that you ask your doctor these questions. They can help you understand your condition and how to manage it.
A hiatus hernia is a common condition. It can cause pain in the chest, stomach, back, and groin. It can also cause pain in the upper abdomen or groin.
The hernia can be diagnosed with a physical examination. An X-ray or CT scan may also be needed to diagnose the hernia.
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