It is not unusual for a person with a hiatal hernia to have absolutely no hiatal hernia symptoms at all. Close to 25% of the population have a hiatal hernia and don’t even notice it. Often it will show up when tests are being done for another condition.
Hiatal hernia symptoms can be also be very varied. From simple symptoms such as hiccups to belching, may be an indication that you have a hiatal hernia. Other hiatal hernia symptoms can be more serious and can send you to a doctor immediately. Feeling pressure in your chest or having it escalate to chest pains, can have you thinking you are having a heart attack. Further examination often shows that it is really a hiatal hernia symptom. One of the most common hiatal hernia symptoms is heartburn.
It is also common for a person to experience pain in areas of the upper abdomen. This pain is caused by the stomach becoming trapped over the diaphragm due to a narrow esophageal hiatus. In rare cases a fixed hiatal hernia can cut off the blood supply to the portion of the stomach that is trapped. This causes extreme pain and can be a very serious problem. It is normally referred to as a strangulated hiatal hernia and immediate medical attention is needed.
Another hiatal hernia symptom is a feeling of discomfort. This usually happens when you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, which is commonly called GERD for short. This condition causes stomach acids and digestive enzymes to move up the esophagus and past the sphincter valve that is between the stomach and the esophagus. A hiatal hernia can help to weaken the sphincter muscle.
A hiatal hernia may cause chest pains that feel very similar to angina, also known as heart pain. This heart pain or pressure, may feel like it is radiating to your arm or into your neck area. This is a very serious symptom than can present like either condition, hiatal hernia or a heart attack. It is important for you to not write this off to indigestion, or to your hernia, as the possibility of a heart attack is very real and very serious. Don’t take the risk of doing nothing, but go to an emergency room immediately and let a doctor make the correct diagnosis.
Having constant heartburn after a meal or certain foods can be a sign of many different problems, but it is very often associated as a hiatal hernia symptom. Hiccups although they may seem innocuous, when put together other symptoms may be associated with a hiatal hernia. They can be caused when the nerves in the neck become irritated.
One hiatal hernia complication can be Cameron ulcers. These can be caused by a big, sliding hiatal hernia. Over time it erodes the folds of the stomach close to the opening in the diaphragm. Usually your doctor will do an endoscopy to look at your hernia. Although rare, these ulcers can bleed. Cameron ulcers are not common and generally only about 5% of people who experience a hiatal hernia will have this complication.