Hiatal Hernia





Hiatal hernia, or hiatus hernia, is an ailment wherein part of the stomach pushes out of the diaphragm (a sheet of muscle separating the chest from the abdomen) into the chest cavity. The hiatus is a small opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus goes into and connects to the stomach. A portion of the stomach can then push its way through this opening and produce a hiatal hernia.

Most cases of hiatal hernias do not cause problems or complications and are asymptomatic. Oftentimes, hiatal hernias can go by undiagnosed, unless your doctor accidentally discovers it while assessing you for another abdominal or gastrointestinal condition. A troublesome hiatal hernia, however, can cause GI problems that need to be addressed immediately to avoid further complications.

There are two kinds of hiatal hernia: sliding and paraesophageal. In sliding hiatal hernias, the portion of the stomach together with a portion of the esophagus slips through the hiatus into the chest cavity. Of the two, this is the more common type. The paraesophageal (fixed) hernia, on the other hand, is less common, but poses a more serious risk of the two. In this type of hernia, the esophagus and the stomach are anatomically in place, with a portion of the stomach forcing its way through the hiatus such that it is right beside the esophagus.

Nearly 60% of individuals who are 50 years old or older have hiatal hernias; with the incidence of this condition increasing with age. With this number, only about 9% manifest symptoms that pose medical complications.



The particular cause of hiatal hernias is not really known. There are several theories that are currently being looked into with this condition, one of which is that the individual is born with an unusually large hiatal opening. Another cause being considered is the occurrence of weakened muscle tissue in the diaphragm. This enables the stomach to pouch into the abdominal cavity.

The following are the potential risk factors of hiatal hernias:

  • Increase in intra-abdominal pressure caused by heavy lifting, hard coughing or sneezing, vomiting, pregnancy, straining from constipation, unusual positions when defecating, and obesity;
  • Congenital defects (being born with a large hiatal opening);
  • Lifestyle – smoking and drug use; and
  • Stress


Signs and Symptoms

Hiatal hernias do not usually manifest symptoms. However, once they do, it is usually a result of gastric juices or air pockets entering the esophagus from the stomach. Some common symptoms of this condition include:

  • Heartburn;
  • Chest pain (dull);
  • Difficulty in swallowing;
  • Shortness of breath and/or tightness of the chest;
  • Palpitations;
  • Acid reflux; and
  • Hiccupping or burping.



A hiatal hernia does not usually require treatment. Oftentimes, the treatment is determined by the symptoms being manifested. The most common remedy done is usually for heartburn and acid reflux. Medications that neutralize acid, and reduce or block the production of stomach acid are prescribed to relieve the discomfort brought about by these underlying causes.

On some unfortunate cases, surgery may be required to improve the condition of the patient. It is performed in order to return the portion of the stomach to its proper place and possibly reconstruct the weakened diaphragm and esophageal muscles.


Disability Tax Credits for Hiatal Hernia

You need not suffer unduly from hiatal hernias. If you have been diagnosed with this condition, and you think that you could use a disability tax refund from the Canadian Revenue Agency, then you are in for a treat. With a duly completed and signed disability certificate from your health care provider, you can file for a disability tax refund with the assistance of our friendly HandyTax representatives. Allow us to be of help; call our hotline now!