Hiatal Hernia and GERD
The abdomen and chest are separated by a sheetlike muscle called the diaphragm. The Reference esophagus Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window passes through an opening (the hiatus) in the diaphragm to connect to the stomach. A hiatal hernia occurs when part of the stomach bulges out of the abdomen, through the hiatus, and into the chest. When this happens, the Reference lower esophageal sphincter Opens New Window (LES) may move above the diaphragm.
Normally, pressure from the diaphragm muscle helps keep the LES valve closed. When a hiatal hernia occurs, the valve is pushed above the diaphragm so the diaphragm muscle can no longer help keep the valve closed. If the valve cannot prevent Reference stomach acid and juices Opens New Window from backing up into the esophagus, symptoms of Reference heartburn Opens New Window may occur.
A Reference hiatal hernia Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window is often associated with Reference gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) Opens New Window. The most noticeable symptom of GERD is heartburn.
A person may have a hiatal hernia or GERD or both. A person with a hiatal hernia may not always have GERD. And many people with GERD do not have a hiatal hernia.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference March 6, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Peter J. Kahrilas, MD - Gastroenterology