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A hernia occurs when an internal body part pushes through an opening into an area of the body where it does not belong. In a hiatal hernia, part of the upper stomach bulges through the hiatus—the opening in the diaphragm between the chest and the abdomen through which the esophagus passes.
Some people are born with a larger hiatus, increasing their risk of developing a hiatal hernia. In other cases, the hernia may be caused by pressure in the abdomen created by pregnancy, obesity, coughing, or straining during bowel movements. Being older and smoking are other risk factors. In most cases, the cause of a hiatal hernia is not known.
There are two main types of hiatal hernias:
Hiatal hernias often cause no symptoms. When symptoms do appear, they may include:
If you show signs of having a hiatal hernia, the esophageal experts at Norton Thoracic Institute will assess your condition through several tests before recommending treatment. These tests may include:
Treatment options depend on the type of hernia you have and the severity of your condition. Possible treatments include:
Not all hiatal hernias can be prevented, but you can reduce your risk of developing this condition by controlling your weight and refraining from smoking. If you have a hiatal hernia, take these steps to reduce symptoms and manage your condition:
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