A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper stomach pushes through an opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus passes. Dr. David Harrell, a general surgeon with Premier Surgical Associates in Knoxville, shares more information about hiatal hernias, their causes, symptoms, and possible treatment options.

What is a Hiatal Hernia?

A hiatal hernia is not a bulge that you can see or feel, so it’s not like a groin or belly button hernia where you see a visible lump. They are “high” in the upper stomach, between the stomach and the chest. You can see it on x-ray or with scope, but it can’t really be seen with the eyes.

Someone with a hiatal hernia may experience swallowing problems, reflux, heartburn, and getting full really fast when eating. It is not uncommon for a hiatal hernia to sneak up on people because it’s under the surface, so they don’t see it and it can develop gradually. They are very common in overweight people because the extra weight carried near the belly can push the stomach up.

Often times heartburn and reflux can get really bad due to a hiatal hernia. In some cases, it can even affect the lungs. Additional symptoms that can be attributed to hiatal hernia are shortness of breath, coughing, throat issues, regular throat clearing, and hoarseness.

In the past, people were told hiatal hernias don’t have to be fixed, and sometimes that is true. However, when they start causing reflux and pain or issues with eating, it’s probably time to think about treatment options. If a bad hiatal hernia goes untreated, it can cause issues that obstruct the stomach.

At Premier Surgical Associates in Knoxville, we repair hiatal hernias every week. . If you are experiencing similar symptoms, or believe you may be suffering from a hiatal hernia we can assess your condition and determine if surgery may be right for you. Request an appointment online or call (865) 306-5775 to reach one of our 3 general surgery offices in Knoxville.