Symptoms. Symptoms of a hiatal hernia can vary from person to person. Some people may not have any symptoms. Common symptoms include heartburn, coughing, belching, hiccups, chest pain, difficulty swallowing and shortness of breath. Hiatal hernias can also occur with or contribute to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This causes the acid normally found in the stomach to back up into the esophagus causing what is commonly referred to as acid reflux. Occasionally, a hiatal hernia can cut off blood supply to the stomach causing severe pain and illness. This requires immediate emergency medical care. It is also advisable to always seek medical attention if experiencing chest pain with a hiatal hernia to rule out more serious health issues.