ZocdocAnswersHow can one tell if they have a stomach hernia?

Question

How can one tell if they have a stomach hernia?

I'm a late middle age woman and I regularly have acid reflux. I've read that stomach hernia is a risk for causing this disease, but even though I've read several descriptions, I just can't understand what a stomach hernia is. How would I know if I had one, and how does it cause acid reflux? Is there a way to fix it?

Answer

Acid reflux is one of the most common medical conditions in the world, and it can have several causes. The physicians who are best able to discuss this issue with you include your primary care doctor and your gastroenterologist. Acid reflux, or heartburn, is caused when acid from the stomach escapes into the esophagus (the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach) and causes a burning sensation. Sometimes, this is caused simply by a relaxation of the muscle between the esophagus and stomach. At times, certain foods can cause this relaxation and worsen heartburn, such as tomatoes, alcohol, coffee, and chocolate. At other times an infection of the stomach by Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria, damages the natural defenses of the stomach lining, which can lead to heartburn and abdominal pain. This infection can be detected with a simple laboratory test and can be treated with a course of oral antibiotics by your physician. A stomach hernia, also known as a hiatal hernia, is a situation in which part of the stomach slides up through the hole in the diaphragm where the esophagus joins. This sliding action can make heartburn symptoms much worse. Your physician can perform some specialized X ray tests to determine if you have this condition. As always, the diagnosis and management of your specific condition will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Scheduling an office visit with your primary care doctor or your gastroenterologist is recommended.

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

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