When an internal part of the body gets misplaced from its’ original position, the condition is called a hernia. This condition usually brings pain and discomfort to the person.
In hiatal hernia, a certain internal body part goes into the hiatus cavity of the body. This part is an open space located in the diaphragm. It is composed of a muscular barrier that stands between the abdomen and the cavity of the chest. This is the part where one can see the esophagus pass through from the throat to the stomach. Hiatal hernia is also called ‘hiatus hernia’. This happens whenever the stomach lumps into the hiatus opening.
Types of Hiatal Hernia
To treat this condition, the first thing to do is to identify which hernia you have. There are two types of. The first is called ‘sliding’, while the other one is ‘paraesophageal’ which is located near the esophagus.
- Sliding hiatal hernia occurs when the part where the esophagus and the stomach meets slides towards the direction of the chest via the hiatus. Between the two types, this one is more common.
- Although less common in occurence, paraesophageal is a bigger cause for worry for those treating it. Both the stomach and the esophagus stay in their original places. Pain comes from the fact that a portion of the stomach expands occupying parts of the hiatus and reaches near the sides of the esophagus. In some cases this comes without any symptoms. However, it is dangerous because the stomach can end up being choked where the blood supply is sufficiently diminished or totally cut-off.
In most cases, persons with hiatal hernia will not feel anything. In some cases, symptoms like heartburn and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) happens. Studies have shown that these symptoms are not always the effect of the condition. The condition is not caused by GERD. People with GERD do not necessarily have hiatal hernia.
Heartburn symptoms may be accompanied by chest pain. In certain situations, people who have this symptom sometimes mistake it for a coming heart attack. In this situation, the best thing to do is to have a physical check-up once the symptom comes up.
There is no known and common cause for hiatus hernia. The size of the hiatal opening varies from one person to another.
- Some of the identified possible cases for this condition are coughing, pressure put during movement of bowels, pregnancy, overweight and obesity. All of these put additional force in the abdomen area that causes the displacement of the stomach and esophagus.
- More often, this condition affects women, the elderly and those who have weight issues. A specialized form of x-ray machine is used to analyze and diagnose the condition. The machine uses the ‘barium swallow’ which lets’ physicians take a closer look at the esophagus. Another way to diagnose it is with the insertion of endoscopy. It is like a micro camera that allows the doctors take a look at internal organs and parts.
- If the patient does not feel any symptom or discomfort, treatment is not needed. However, if the condition is paraesophageal, there is a chance that the stomach gets choked as earlier stated. When this happens, the initial treatment for hiatal hernia is surgery when needed. Once symptoms like heartburn and GERD manifest, these have to be treated as it is. In these cases, the doctors will treat the symptoms rather than the condition itself.
Surgery for Extreme Cases
The only time that surgery is considered is when the hernia is in a position where it might get strangulated in such a way that the blood passages are shut off. In this case, the main goal of the surgery is to reduce the level of the hernia by bringing the stomach back to its’ original position.
The surgery can be performed under the classification ‘laparoscopic’. This means that the procedure will be invasive but at a minimum level. The incisions involved are very small. On the average, the openings measure between 5 and 10 millimeters. The laparoscope is an instrument that doctors use to see the condition through a monitor. The incision is where the physician inserts the medical instruments and repairs the damage. This surgery has reduced risk of infection, pain, and scarring because of the small incisions made. It also means faster recovery for the patient.
In fact most patients are known to walk around for short distances on the very next day. A recovery period of only one week is advised to patients. After that, they can go back to their regular daily activities. There are no restrictions with regards to the food that they can take. If there is one thing that the patient should stay away from for the next three months its strenuous activities. Even after surgery, there is a chance that the hernia will happen again in the future.