Hiatal hernia is a condition in which the upper part of the
stomach moves into the chest through a hole in the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the muscle that divides the chest cavity from the abdomen.
What is going on in the body?
The esophagus is the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. It enters the abdominal cavity through a hole in the diaphragm called the esophageal hiatus. When a person has hiatal hernia, the esophageal hiatus is usually weakened or larger than usual. At times, the upper part of the stomach can pass up through this larger-than-usual hole and into the diaphragm.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
A hiatal hernia may be caused by:
constant, harsh coughing
constipation and straining
during bowel movements
sudden physical exertion
tight clothing around the abdomen
trauma, causing a hole or tear in the diaphragm
congenital abnormality, or weakness of the esophageal hiatus present at
medical procedures affecting the esophagus or diaphragm