Many people can actually live with a condition known as hiatal hernia and not even know that they have it. The reason is that in mild cases, there are virtually no symptoms. However, in more extreme cases, symptoms such as chronic belching, nausea and even chest pain may be a part of your daily life.
Even though a specific cause may as yet be difficult to pinpoint, we know that hiatal hernias may be the result of a weakening of the supporting tissue. Factors such as losing muscle tone with age, significant weight gain and even smoking, which damages the esophagus, are absolutely thought to be risk factors for adults with hiatal hernias.
Some children are actually born with this condition and it can go hand in hand with other uncomfortable and painful conditions such as gastrointestinal reflux.
So what, exactly is hiatal hernia?
Basically it is a condition in which part of the stomach protrudes into the chest, via the diaphragm.
The diaphragm itself contains a small "hiatus" or opening; thus the stomach pushing through this opening is known as a "hiatal hernia."
In more serious cases, acid can make its way up into the esophagus and in some cases with very large hiatal hernias, surgery may be required.
Causes can include permanent scarring of the esophagus which leads to the stomach being pulled upwards, or a loose connection between the esophagus and the diaphragm.
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