Most of us will develop a hiatal hernia at some point in our lives. According to the Esophageal Cancer Awareness Association, 60% of Americans will develop one by the time they reach the age of 60 — and they are more common among women.
Hiatal hernias develop when a part of the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm and into the esophagus or chest cavity.
The exact cause of hiatal hernias is unknown. Obesity, smoking, and age-related changes to your diaphragm can contribute to the formation of this condition. Injury to the muscles around the stomach or intense pressure to the area – such as coughing, vomiting, abdominal exercise, or straining during a bowel movement – can also cause or worsen symptoms.
For many people, hiatal hernias cause no symptoms, acute pain, or disruptions to everyday life. In some cases, however, hiatal hernias can lead to more severe symptoms and complications including anemia, chronic heartburn, recurrent acid reflux, and narrowing of the lower esophagus. Some people attribute pain from other diseases to their hiatal hernia, so it is important to seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or if new symptoms arise.
Most people can live comfortably without treatment, but over-the-counter antacids and prescription medications are available to ease persistent discomfort. Surgery is necessary in severe or emergency cases. Digestive disease specialists are able to diagnose a hiatal hernia and determine your best medical care option.
Call Digestive Disease Associates in Hinsdale (630) 325-4255 to discuss your questions or concerns about hiatal hernias with one of our board-certified gastroenterologists, Dr. Carl Calandra and Dr. Suman Kaur. Visit www.ddahinsdale.com to learn more.
Note: This information shouldn’t take the place of a physician’s care. Please see your physician or one of the Digestive Disease Associate physicians with any questions or concerns.