ZocdocAnswersCan dyspnea be caused by a large paraesophageal hernia?

Question

Can dyspnea be caused by a large paraesophageal hernia?

The majority of my stomach is in the chest cavity. I have severe shortness of breath when walking. Cardiac and pulmonary function tests are normal. Would hiatal hernia repair correct the breathing problem?

Answer

I am very sorry to hear that you are dealing with such persistent shortness of breath, although it is very good news that your cardiac and pulmonary exams have been normal so far. I would strongly suggest that, at this point, you discuss the issue of your hiatal hernia with a gastroenterologist, if you have not done so yet. They will be able to discuss treatment options with you, which include surgery, and refer you to an appropriate surgeon if together you both feel this is the next step to take. The most common symptoms from a hiatal hernia are bad acid reflux and trouble with swallowing food. However, very large hernias, like the one you have, can sometimes cause respiratory symptoms like shortness of breath simply by pressing on the lungs. Therefore, it is possible that repairing the hernia could improve your symptoms of shortness of breath, but you would need to sit down with the gastroenterologist, who can review your testing that you have had so far and give you a more definitive answer. The surgery for a large hiatal hernia is complex, so it is important to be certain that your symptoms are coming from the hernia prior to proceeding to surgery.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.