Hernia FAQs

What Causes a Hiatal Hernia?

Most of the time, the cause is not known. A person may be born with a larger hiatal opening. Increased pressure in the abdomen such as from pregnancy, obesity, coughing, or straining during bowel movements may also play a role.

Who Is at Risk for Hiatal Hernia?

Hiatal hernias occur more often in women, people who are overweight, and people older than 50.

How Is a Hiatal Hernia Diagnosed?

A hiatal hernia can be diagnosed with a specialized X-ray (using a barium swallow) that allows a doctor to see the esophagus or with endoscopy.

How Are Hiatal Hernias Treated?

Most people do not experience any symptoms of their hiatal hernia so no treatment is necessary. However, the paraesophaeal hernia (when part of the stomach squeezes through the hiatus) can sometimes cause the stomach to be strangled, so hernia surgery is sometimes recommended. Other symptoms that may occur along with the hernia such as chest pain should be properly evaluated. Symptoms of GERD, such as heartburn, should be treated.

When Is Hiatal Hernia Surgery Necessary?

If the hiatal hernia is in danger of becoming constricted or strangulated (so that the blood supply is cut off), surgery may be needed to reduce the hernia, meaning put it back where it belongs.

What is an inguinal hernia?

An inguinal hernia is a condition in which part of your intestine, other organs, or belly fat pokes through an opening or weak spot in the muscles in your groin. Anyone can get an inguinal hernia—from infants to adults. But it is much more common in men than in women.

Symptoms of an inguinal hernia can include:

Sometimes the bulge of an inguinal hernia is painful, and sometimes it is not. Often, gently pushing on the bulge can make the intestine go back into your belly. Sometimes, however, the intestine can become trapped in the groin or scrotum and cannot be pushed back in.

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