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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Hiatal Hernia
      Category : Health Centers > Digestive System

Hiatal Hernia

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

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
  • vomiting
  • constipation and straining during bowel movements
  • sudden physical exertion
  • pregnancy
  • obesity
  • smoking
  • tight clothing around the abdomen
  • trauma, causing a hole or tear in the diaphragm
  • congenital abnormality, or weakness of the esophageal hiatus present at birth
  • esophageal cancer
  • medical procedures affecting the esophagus or diaphragm


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    Hiatal Hernia: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Reviewer: Melissa Sanders, PharmD
    Date Reviewed: 09/25/00

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