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General Medical Questions
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Question : My mother has recently been diagnosed with a “sliding hernia.” What exactly is this? She has pain in her chest region.
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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September 20, 2012
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A:

A “sliding hernia” is a type of hiatal hernia. This develops when the upper part of the stomach slips up through the diaphragm muscle into the chest. The term “sliding” means that the junction between the stomach and esophagus moves up and down, rather than being stuck right at the diaphragm.

Hiatal hernias are very common. Many people with hiatal hernias have no symptoms at all. Others have heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). Still others may have unusual pains or a hard time swallowing. Fortunately, sliding hiatal hernias rarely cause major complications.

Your mother may be able to ease her symptoms by changing her diet or trying an acid-reducing drug. Occasionally, a large hiatal hernia may cause symptoms that are hard to control. Then, surgery is recommended.

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