For people over the age of 50, it’s important to be aware of hiatal hernia symptoms, as the condition is actually quite common for older adults. In fact, 60 percent of the population are expected to have a hiatal hernia by the time they are 60 years old.
Many different things can cause hiatal hernias, such as lifting too much, coughing too much or too hard, or putting other kinds of excess pressure on your abdominal muscles (such as straining too hard during a bowel movement).
While there are things that you can do to reduce your risk, such as eating a hiatal hernia diet, the condition can affect anyone. By knowing the symptoms, you can help determine when you are suffering from a hiatal hernia and should seek medical attention.
Symptoms of Hiatal Hernia
Hiatal hernias occur when part of your stomach pushes through your diaphragm muscle, which is located around your chest. Basically, your stomach pushes through a weak point in your diaphragm muscle, which can be caused by anything which puts a lot of pressure on it.
So, what are the signs and symptoms of hiatal hernias? The truth is, hiatal hernias often have no noticeable symptoms, and they are usually painless. They are not typically visible without X-rays or a medical examination, and are usually found incidentally, during another procedure. However, large hiatal hernias commonly cause other complications and conditions.
People with hiatal hernias often develop gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which allows stomach acid to flow up into the esophagus, particularly after meals. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Heartburn, or a burning sensation in the chest
- Vomiting or dry heaves
- Excessive belching
- A “full” feeling after eating average-sized meals
- A sour acid taste in the back of the throat
- Trouble swallowing
- Excessive saliva production after meals
- Passing black stool or vomiting blood, which indicates bleeding somewhere in the digestive system, or bleeding in the esophagus
If you experience these symptoms after eating meals, there’s a good chance that you may have a hiatal hernia. However, it’s also possible to have GERD without having a hiatal hernia. The two conditions are often, but not always, linked. It’s also possible for GERD to cause some more uncommon symptoms, such as coughs, coughing spasms, and asthma attacks. As well, repeated pneumonia and bronchitis infections can be caused by GERD. So while you can never be completely sure on your own if you have a hiatal hernia, if you have any of these common GERD-associated symptoms, you may also have a hernia.
When to Seek Medical Help When Dealing With Symptoms of Hiatal Hernia
Hiatal hernias can become medical emergencies. If your hernia becomes obstructed or strangulated, it could block blood flow to your stomach. This means that you need immediate medical attention. Go directly to the hospital if you have any of these symptoms:
- Inability to pass gas or stool
Otherwise, hiatal hernias are not considered an emergency. However, it’s still advised that you go to a doctor to confirm that you do have a hiatal hernia, as many other health problems can cause the same symptoms (such as ulcers). There are also natural remedies for hiatal hernia that can help manage the symptoms you are experiencing.
It’s hard to figure out if you do have a hiatal hernia, since they are often painless and asymptomatic, but it helps if you are aware of some of the common signs and associated conditions. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of GERD, then you may also have a hiatal hernia. Your doctor can help you determine whether you have a hernia that needs to be treated.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Delgado, Amanda, “What Is a Hiatal Hernia?” Healthline web site, September 26, 2015; http://www.healthline.com/health/hiatal-hernia#Overview1, last accessed March 4, 2016.
“Hiatal Hernia,” Cleveland Clinic web site; https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic-hernia/hic-hiatal-hernia, last accessed March 4, 2016.
“Hiatal Hernia,” Mayo Clinic web site, February 03, 2015; http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hiatal-hernia/basics/symptoms/con-20030640, last accessed March 4, 2016.
Wedro, B., “Hiatal Hernia Overview,” Medicine Net web site, February 10, 2015; http://www.medicinenet.com/hiatal_hernia_overview/page2.htm, last accessed March 4, 2016.