What is hiatal hernia and how can it be prevented?

A hernia occurs when an organ pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. For example, the intestines may break through a weakened area in the abdominal wall. Hernias are most common in the abdomen. However, they can also appear in the upper thigh, belly button, and groin regions.

A hiatal hernia occurs when part of the stomach protrudes up through the diaphragm into the chest. The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that helps you breathe by contracting, drawing air into the lungs. It separates the organs in your abdomen from those in your chest. This type of hernia is most common in patients over 50 years old.

Hernias are caused by a combination of muscle weakness and strain. A hernia can develop quickly or over a long period of time, depending on its cause.

Common causes of muscle weakness include: failure of the abdominal wall to close properly in the womb (congenital defect); age; chronic coughing; damage from injury or surgery.

Factors that strain your body and may cause a hernia (especially if your muscles are weak) include: being pregnant (puts pressure on your abdomen); being constipated (causes you to strain when having a bowel movement); heavy weight lifting; fluid in the abdomen (ascites); suddenly gaining weight; persistent coughing or sneezing.

According to WebMD, heres how you can prevent symptoms of a hiatal hernia:

(1) Wear loose clothing. Anything that presses on the stomach can aggravate hiatal hernia symptoms.

(2) When your stomach is full, avoid bending over or lying down. This increases abdominal pressure and makes heartburn more likely.

(3) Do not bend over or lie down for two to three hours after eating.

(4) Raise the head of the bed six to eight inches by using wooden blocks under the bedposts.

To prevent hiatal hernia maintaining a healthy weight is key....