Hiatus hernia is an abnormal bulging of a portion of the stomach through the diaphragm.
The cause of this disorder usually is not known, but age, obesity, and smoking are common factors.
Some people have no symptoms or minor ones such as reflux and indigestion, whereas others have more serious symptoms such as chest pain, bloating, belching, and difficulty swallowing.
The diagnosis is based on results of barium swallow x-rays or sometimes upper endoscopy.
Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms, sometimes by using drugs and rarely by doing surgery.
The esophagus is the hollow tube that leads from the throat (pharynx) to the stomach.
Bulging (herniating) of any structure in the abdomen through the diaphragm (the sheet of muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdomen) is called a diaphragmatic hernia. The diaphragm has an opening that the esophagus normally passes through called the hiatus. A diaphragmatic hernia that occurs through this opening is called a hiatus hernia.
The cause of hiatus hernia is usually unknown, but it may be caused by stretching of the bands of tissue that are attached between the esophagus and diaphragm at the hiatus. The condition is more common among people who are older than 50, who are overweight (particularly women), or who smoke. Other types of diaphragmatic hernia may result from a birth defect (see Diaphragmatic Hernia) or from an injury.