Hernia is one of the most common ailments in the population especially after the age of fifty. Not everyone, however, knows the hiatus hernia, a type of hernia that can prove to be very annoying or - and perhaps in this case a more dangerous and problematic condition occurs - it can be asymptomatic and, if not treated, give vent to more serious pathologies. serious entity.
A hernia is defined as a protrusion of an organ or tissue towards the outside of the cavity in which it is normally housed; the hiatal hernia affects the stomach, and is therefore a deformation of the stomach wall, which extends towards what is called the esophageal hiatus: a small oven in the diaphragm whose function is to allow the passage of the esophagus, which in turn is connected to the stomach from the cardia. The cardia is important because it houses the gastroesophageal sphincter, a valve that blocks the ascent of digested food and gastric juices up into the throat. But when the valve doesn't work properly, the hiatal hernia can contribute to worsening episodes ofgastroesophageal reflux, with all the disturbances that this entails.
It should also be noted that the diaphragm also has a regulatory action on the gastroesophageal sphincter, because through its pressure it favors the opening and closing mechanism of the valve. However, when a case of hiatus hernia occurs, the sphincter is pushed above the diaphragm by the part of the stomach that protrudes from its natural seat. The diaphragm, preventing the latter from exerting the natural pressure that allows the valve to be kept tightly closed. when necessary and thus prevent the gastric juices contained in the stomach from rising. We are thus in the presence of a classic case of gastroesophageal reflux syndrome.
Causes of hiatus hernia
As anticipated, hernia is a disorder strongly associated with the physiological progression of time: the same goes for hiatal hernia. Some studies have confirmed that at the basis of the development of the hiatal hernia there may also be the continuous and constant repetition of the muscular movements that allow swallowing, which causes a worsening in the elasticity of the tissues thus favoring the formation of the hernia. Precisely for this reason hiatal hernia is very common among the elderly population: it seems in fact that about 9 out of 10 people suffer from it after the age of 80, but already after 50 about a quarter of the population seems to have already developed the first signs of protrusion.
People at risk, however, also include pregnant women and people with obesity problems, because strong abdominal compression is among the secondary causes of this disorder. Even smoking, an incorrect lifestyle and a particular sedentary lifestyle can lead to the spontaneous onset of hiatal hernia, which can also appear after a strong abdominal trauma (accident, fall, beatings, etc.) or after physical effort particularly challenging.
Hiatal hernia symptoms
Usually, small hiatal hernias, in the very initial stage, do not involve particularly important symptoms: often these are ignored completely until the situation is it gets worse. When the hernia becomes consistent, however, the ascent of the gastric contents into the esophagus causes burning, acidity, heaviness, cases of regurgitation and chest pain; if left untreated, hiatal hernia, associated with gastroesophageal reflux, can cause cough and asthma, difficulty breathing (or heavy breathing) and difficulty swallowing, often accompanied by severe sore throat. In similar cases it is therefore important to report the situation to the attending physician, who will be able to prescribe - based on the case - antacids, painkillers or drugs suitable for the pathology, or in the most serious symptomatological pictures, recommend surgery to reduce the hernia and replace it in the its natural location.
Even in the mildest cases, however, the hiatus hernia at the base of gastroesophageal reflux syndrome can cause unpleasant consequences, such as halitosis (bad breath odor), profuse salivation and foaming at the mouth, perception of bad taste in the throat and mouth (tending towards bitterness) and changes in vocal pitch, such as hoarseness and aphonia. There are also cases of abdominal swelling and frequent belching, nausea and digestive difficulties. Obviously all these symptoms tend to get worse - as well as all the disorders related to the malfunctioning of the digestive system - in the supine position and even more when the head moves down (when, for example, one bends down to pick up something from the ground ).
As it is easy to imagine, in less severe cases the symptoms of hiatal hernia are relieved with simple tricks, improving one's lifestyle and diet according to one'sphysiological well-being. For example, it is good to avoid heavy and high-calorie meals, eat smaller portions and satisfy hunger with snacks and small fillers. A proper diet would be free of alcohol, coffee, acidic foods, chocolate and spicy foods, and in general anything that causes indigestion or can irritate the stomach and esophagus walls. After meals, the supine position should always be avoided: a small digestive walk is better. It is also important to stop smoking and start practicing physical activity, frequent even if light.