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How to identify symptoms of a strangulated hiatal hernia

Updated February 21, 2017

Normally, a hiatus hernia is a minor problem, requiring only a change in dietary and eating habits, but if a hiatus hernia becomes strangulated it quickly becomes a life-threatening situation. Know how to identify symptoms of a strangulated hiatus hernia.

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  1. Learn the symptoms of a strangulated hiatus hernia. The symptoms can mimic some other medical conditions, including cardiac arrest. They include difficulty swallowing, chest pain, stomach pain, fever, vomiting, chills, weakness, bloating and swelling or tenderness at the site of the hernia. Excessive belching is also a symptom of a strangulated hernia.

  2. Different people may experience different symptoms. You may experience only some of these symptoms or all of them. In either case, get medical treatment right away if you suspect a strangulated hiatus hernia.

  3. Feel your hernia. If it is swollen, hard, tender, painful or protruding more than usual and you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed in Step 1, you may have a strangulated hernia. Tenderness at the site of a hiatus hernia is a strong indicator that it is either strangulated or becoming strangulated.

  4. Many people can not feel their hernias from the outside of their body. If your hiatus hernia becomes strangulated, you may feel pain and tenderness in the upper abdominal and/or chest area.

  5. Listen to your body. You will know when it is telling you something is wrong. Is the pain or tenderness continuous, or does it come and go? Typically, the pain associated with a strangulated hiatus hernia is continuous and increases as time goes on. If the pain comes and goes, you may have a different problem. Is the pain lower in your abdomen, rather than your chest? It's possible you're experiencing another illness, such as food poisoning. In any case, if your hernia is painful or if you are experiencing severe pain anywhere, get medical treatment right away. The only "cure" for a strangulated hernia is surgery. An untreated strangulated hiatus hernia is deadly.

  6. Tip

    Get medical treatment immediately by calling an ambulance or going to the hospital if you suspect you have a strangulated hiatus hernia. If you are aware that you have a hiatus hernia, discuss with your health care provider the specific symptoms, risks and options for a strangulated hernia. Have a plan in place if your hiatus hernia progresses to strangulation.


    Don't wait until your hiatus hernia becomes strangulated to seek treatment. If you are having increasing problems or your hernia feels painful or hard or is causing pressure, go see your doctor.

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About the Author

Carlye Jones
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