Normally, the stomach is completely below the diaphragm. In individuals with hiatus hernia part of the stomach slides through the diaphragm, the muscular sheet that separates the lungs and chest from the abdomen, and protrudes into chest cavity. Hiatal hernia is more common and affects people of all ages.
Hiatal hernias are of two types:
- Sliding hiatal hernia - The top portion of stomach slides up and down through the diaphragm with increased pressure on abdominal cavity
- Fixed Hiatal hernia - The top portion of stomach moves up into the chest cavity and does not slide down into normal position
Obesity, chronic cough, chronic constipation, smoking, and hereditary factors increases the risk of developing hiatal hernias. Hiatal hernia may not cause any symptoms but patients may experience chest pain, heart burn, belching, and hiccups.