A hiatal hernia occurs when part of
your stomach pushes upward through your diaphragm. Your diaphragm normally has
a small opening (hiatus) through which your food tube (esophagus) passes on its
way to connect to your stomach. The stomach can push up through this opening
and cause a hiatal hernia. In most cases, a small hiatal hernia doesn't cause
problems, and you may never know you have a hiatal hernia unless your doctor
discovers it when checking for another condition. But a large hiatal hernia can
allow food and acid to back up into your esophagus, leading to heartburn.
Self-care measures or medications can usually relieve these symptoms, although
a very large hiatal hernia sometimes requires surgery.