Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Hiatal Hernia and GERD
The abdomen and chest are separated by a sheetlike muscle called the
esophagus passes through an opening (the hiatus) in
the diaphragm to connect to the stomach. A hiatal hernia occurs when part of
the stomach bulges out of the abdomen, through the hiatus, and into the chest.
When this happens, the
lower esophageal sphincter (LES) may move above the
Normally, pressure from the diaphragm muscle helps keep the LES valve
closed. When a hiatal hernia occurs, the valve is pushed above the diaphragm so
the diaphragm muscle can no longer help keep the valve closed. If the valve
stomach acid and juices from backing up into the
esophagus, symptoms of
heartburn may occur.
A hiatal hernia is often associated with
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The most
noticeable symptom of GERD is heartburn.
A person may have a hiatal hernia or GERD or both. A person with a
hiatal hernia may not always have GERD. And many people with GERD do not have a
March 6, 2012
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Peter J. Kahrilas, MD - Gastroenterology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Genesis HealthCare System | 1-800-322-4762