As you get older, your risk for developing a hiatal hernia increases. To protect your gastrointestinal health, the board-certified medical team at Illinois Gastroenterology Group offers on-site diagnostics, including upper endoscopy procedures, to quickly identify a hiatal hernia. At their offices in Oak Lawn, Oakbrook Terrace, and Palos Heights, Illinois, the skilled doctors customize your treatment to alleviate pain, acid reflux, and other symptoms of a hiatal hernia. To schedule a diagnostic evaluation for a hiatal hernia, call the Illinois Gastroenterology Group’s office nearest you or book an appointment online now.
A hiatal hernia is a condition that develops when the upper part of your stomach protrudes through a weak area of your diaphragm, the thin muscle separating your abdomen from your chest. This weakness may develop because of an injury or may be due to age-related muscle deterioration.
Because the diaphragm prevents the backflow of stomach acids into your esophagus, a hiatal hernia can cause you to experience chronic acid reflux symptoms and make it more difficult for you to swallow.
You may not know you have a hiatal hernia until you undergo diagnostic testing for chronic heartburn or acid reflux. When a hiatal hernia is small, you may not even have symptoms.
Other side effects of a hiatal hernia include:
If you have internal bleeding due to a hiatal hernia, you may also experience rectal bleeding or have stools that appear black.
When any of these symptoms become chronic and aren’t relieved with over-the-counter medicines, you should schedule an evaluation at Illinois Gastroenterology Group.
Diagnosing a hiatal hernia usually requires a special X-ray that uses barium liquid to highlight your upper digestive tract. If a hiatal hernia isn’t clear on an X-ray, you may need an endoscopy. This procedure involves the insertion of a thin tube with an attached camera that sends real-time images of your upper digestive tract to an external monitor.
Your Illinois Gastroenterology Group doctor also reviews your personal and family medical history to determine if other underlying issues may be causing your symptoms.
Small hiatal hernias usually don’t require any treatment and your Illinois Gastroenterology Group doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription medicines to treat your heartburn and acid reflux symptoms.
If you have a large hiatal hernia that isn’t treatable with medicines, your Illinois Gastroenterology Group provider may recommend surgery to repair the weakness in the diaphragm and reposition your stomach.
Hiatal hernia surgery can often be done with laparoscopic techniques, allowing repairs to be made through small incisions. These minimally invasive techniques help you heal faster and reduce your risk of excessive bleeding and infections.