Diaphragmatic/Hiatal Hernia: Symptoms and risks

What does the diaphragm do?

The diaphragm is a musculo-tendinous sheet that separates the thoracic and abdominal cavities. It is dome shaped and the most important muscle for respiration. 

The oesophagus runs behind the breastbone. It passes into the abdominal cavity through an opening in the diaphragm.

Was ist ein What Is Hiatal Hernia / Hiatus Hernia?

Hiatal Hernia in situ

Most cases of severe and persisting heartburn are caused by an anatomic disorder. The esophagus runs through the diaphragm, which in turn is firmly clasped around the esophagus. If the passage point of the esophagus is dilated, the condition is called hiatal hernia. Yet, if the sphincter at the lower end of the esophagus is intact, the hiatal hernia usually does not cause any discomfort.

In cases of strong acid reflux, therapy is necessary. Firstly, for alleviating the pain, secondly, in order to prevent long-term damage to the esophagus, such as inflammations, scarring and tissue changes up to canceration.

What are the symptoms of a Diaphragmatic Hernia?

Severe heartburn persisting for years is usually accompanied by an anatomical disorder: a diaphragmatic hernia. If the sphincter muscle at the lower end of the oesophagus is intact, the diaphragmatic hernia usually does not cause any discomfort.

If the sphincter muscle is weakened, however, severe acid reflux occurs and needs to be treated to relieve the pain and to avoid long-term damage to the oesophagus.

What are the risks of untreated diaphragmatic hernia?

Continuous reflux of acid from the stomach into the oesophagus causes pain and inflammation, as well as longer-term effects:

  • Scarring in the oesophagus
  • Tissue changes or even carcinogenesis
  • Laryngitis
  • Asthma-like issues if acid enters the trachea
  • Chronic gingivitis