It is important to note that the esophagus is the tube that travels from the mouth up to the stomach via an opening in the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that separates the chest from the abdominal cavity. In case the opening or hiatus is too big, a region of the stomach along with the connection between the stomach and esophagus can protrude via the diaphragm into the chest cavity. Take note that this condition is called as a sliding hiatal hernia that can trigger symptoms that disrupt with normal swallowing, eating as well as other daily activities.
Indigestion and heartburn
Some individuals who have a sliding hiatal hernia can suffer from heartburn and indigestion linked to food and stomach acid that backs up into the esophagus. The individual can complain about pain behind the breast bone or a compressing pain in the chest that is similar to pain of coronary artery disease.
The pain can also occur in the face, neck or throat. The discomfort often occurs right after a meal or when the individual lies down to rest. The discomfort can be relieved by simple measures such as elevating the head of the bed to minimize reflux, avoiding acidic or fatty foods and wearing loose clothes. Changes in lifestyle such as cutting down weight or stopping smoking are also beneficial. There are also medications that blocks the production of acid specifically proton pump inhibitors that can provide relief.
The reflux of stomach contents and acid into the esophagus can lead to difficulty swallowing which is called dysphagia. The individual feels as if there is something trapped in the throat. In severe cases, an individual can choke on their food.
Other symptoms involving the throat include hoarseness, dry cough as well as hiccups, sore throat that persists and the need to clear the throat. Always bear in mind that throat issues might be linked to damage to the esophagus due to the stomach acids or temporary muscle spasms.
Individuals who have sliding hiatal hernia can have a bitter or sour taste in the mouth along with increased production of saliva that is both due to the regurgitation of the stomach acids. This can also lead to burping, vomiting or a feeling that acid is backing up into the throat.
In some individuals, they can complain of pain in the upper region of the abdomen and feel unusually full which is called dyspepsia. Take note that this condition can develop with indigestion and heartburn or on its own. The belching and bloating might also be present. Among those who have severe vomiting and nausea or inability to have a bowel movement, they require immediate medical care since these indicates bowel obstruction or a strangulated hernia.