A hiatal hernia occurs when part of the stomach Is forced through the small esophageal opening in the diaphragm. It is a common condition that may or may not cause symptoms. Most patients never know that they have a hiatal hernia, however it is estimated that upwards of 90% of obese patients may have a hiatal hernia of varying severity.
Causes of a Hiatal Hernia
The most common cause of a hiatal hernia is excess pressure in the abdomen. Much like other abdominal hernias, natural weakness in the diaphragm may allow stomach tissue to protrude due to pressure caused by obesity, pregnancy and hiatal hernias may even occur because of heredity.
Symptoms of a Hiatal Hernia
While majority of obese patients suffer from a hiatal hernia, many will never know they have one. In most cases, a hiatal hernia causes no outward symptoms. However, most symptomatic hiatal hernias cause the development or worsening of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease also known as GERD, including chest pain, and burning.