If you are suffering from a hiatal hernia, symptoms may not present themselves immediately. This is a problem that occurs when there is a weakness in the diaphragm of the upper stomach. One of the reasons that hiatal hernia symptoms may not be immediately recognized is that they often take the form of heartburn. For example, if you are experiencing acid reflux or heartburn in the chest or upper stomach region, this could be a sign that you have a hiatal hernia. Since it is often hard to distinguish between when these normal everyday problems are actually representative of a larger problem, a hiatal hernia could go undiagnosed for a long time.
Something to consider if you think that you are suffering from this type of hernia is that it occurs when there is unnecessary pressure placed on the abdomen. Risk factors that can lead to hiatal hernia symptoms include heavy lifting, hard coughing or sneezing, constipation, obesity, smoking, pregnancy, stress, cocaine use, or a hereditary weakness of the diaphragm. If you are someone who is experiencing a constant sense of heartburn or reoccurring acid reflux and you have one or more of these factors, then it might be a good time to discuss the possibility of a hiatal hernia with your doctor.
The bad news is that this is a problem that it cannot be simply diagnosed by having a routine physical examination. In fact, even if you are experiencing the hiatal hernia symptoms and have risk factors associated with this problem, the only way to know for sure if this is something that you are suffering from is to have an endoscopy procedure done or through an upper gastrointestinal series of radiographs. Both of these procedures are somewhat elaborate procedures and they can be costly to have done. For example, the upper GI radiographs are done through a series of images that are taken of the esophagus and stomach while an endoscopy procedure is something that is done when a camera is inserted into the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract through your mouth.
Something else to consider if you are experiencing hiatal hernia symptoms is that there are three different kinds of hiatal hernias. The more common hernia appears at the top of the stomach where it is joined together with the diaphragm at the gastroesophageal junction. Since this is the hernia that shows up in ninety five percent of the patients it is the most likely cause. However, a much less common form is when the stomach has a hernia that appears next to the esophagus. The last kind is only present in less than one percent of the hiatal hernias reported and it is when there is a hernia that is a combination of the two types, or in essence two different hernias tied together. All three of them though will have you experiencing the same kind of hiatal hernia symptoms.
If the hernia is not large it is not likely that you will have to undergo any treatment if there are not any severe symptoms or problems. For those hernias that have grown large or if the hiatal hernia symptoms have become very problematic, then it is likely that you will have to work with your doctor to find a treatment option that will work with your needs. If you believe that your hiatal hernia was caused by stress, then you may have to undergo some therapy and medications to help reduce your stress level. Similarly, if your doctor believes that your problems originated because you are overweight, then a diet and exercise plan may be the treatment. When hiatal hernia symptoms are at their worst and other treatment options have not worked, then your doctor may resort to surgery. Because it is a somewhat invasive, it is important that you pursue other options first.
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