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The Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Hiatal Hernias

Hiatal hernias are a common condition. It is estimated that up to 60% of those 60 years of age or older have a hiatal hernia to some degree. The condition is caused when part of the stomach extends into the esophagus. This happens at an opening in the diaphragm (a muscle that separates the abdomen from the chest cavity) called the hiatus.

Information. There are two types of hiatal hernias. The most common type is the sliding hiatal hernia. This occurs when the stomach slides through the diaphragm via an opening called the hiatus. This happens when pressure is applied to the abdomen. When the pressure is released, the stomach typically moves back into place. These types of hiatal hernias can be either small or large. Those with a small sliding hiatal hernia may not know it or have any symptoms. For those with larger hernias, symptoms may include heartburn and regurgitation that is hard to control with medication. Paraesophageal hiatal hernias are the other type. This type is less common. It occurs when part of the stomach enters into the chest cavity and rests next to the esophagus. These types of hernias tend to remain fixed and do not move. Although rare, these types of hernias can have more serious symptoms and generally require surgery.

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