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Hiatal Hernia Symptoms & Diagnosis


Most people with hiatal hernias have no symptoms.

Symptoms may occur when stomach acid moves up into the esophagus. This is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and can cause:

  • Heartburn, especially after eating or lying down
  • Pain or discomfort in the stomach, chest, or esophagus (swallowing tube)
  • Belching
  • Hoarseness
  • Throat irritation (frequent clearing of the throat)
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Bleeding from the stomach or esophagus


Because they often have no symptoms, hiatal hernias are sometimes only detected during a visit to the doctor for other ailments. A hiatal hernia is usually diagnosed with the following tests:

  • Upper GI series —A series of x-rays of the upper digestive system taken after drinking a barium solution, to show the outline of the digestive system.
  • Endoscopy —A camera mounted on a thin, lighted tube is inserted through the mouth into the esophagus or swallowing tube. At this time, a biopsy or sample of tissue may be taken to check for any complications, including:

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2023 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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