A hiatal hernia is an anatomical condition characterized by the passage of a part of the stomach into the chest. Its formation is due to the loosening of the walls of the hiatus, which is a small opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus passes.

We talk about the potential symptoms caused by hiatal hernia and the advice to face it with Dr. Beatrice Salvioli, gastroenterologist in Humanitas.


Hiatal hernia and gastro-esophageal reflux

The hiatal hernia can be asymptomatic, or it can manifest itself with some symptoms ascribable to digestion difficulties, or gastro-esophageal reflux, with the ascent of gastric acids in the esophagus and consequent burning, regurgitation and pain at the thoracic level. Another characteristic symptom of hiatal hernia is the sensation of perceiving the heartbeats after eating, as if it were a palpitation.

In the presence of these symptoms it is advisable to consult a doctor, who will prescribe the appropriate checks to ascertain or exclude the presence of hernia and/or reflux.


What are the diagnostic tests?

The diagnosis is usually made through gastroscopy, even if the best examination to measure the entity of the hernia is the radiological one (esophageal X-Ray), in which the patient is made to drink a liquid solution with barium that contrasts the first digestive pathways.


Advice to fight hiatal hernia

In the presence of a hiatal hernia accompanied by gastro-esophageal reflux, it is advisable to avoid certain foods such as fried, spicy or fatty foods (sauces, butter), chocolate, mint, coffee, tea, tomato sauces, citrus fruits, sausages and smoked meat, fatty and fermented cheeses and alcoholic beverages. However, the most important thing is not to eat too late at dinner and not to lie down or sit in front of the television immediately after eating, especially if the meal was plentiful.