The diaphragm is a large dome-shaped muscle dividing the chest from the abdominal cavity. It is the muscle concerned with breathing, and it is assisted by the muscles between the ribs during exertion. It has special openings in it to allow for the passage of important blood vessels and for the food channel, the esophagus.
It is estimated that about half the population over 60 years of age suffer from this disease although most will not show any symptoms. The correct diagnosis of a hiatus hernia is arrived by a barium meal x-ray test.
Other areas of pain are the base of the throat, right lower ribs and behind the right shoulder blade. The pain increases when the patient stoops with efforts and lies down. Other symptoms of this disease are heartburn, especially after a meal, a feeling of fullness and bloatedness, flatulence and discomfort on swallowing.
Drinks like tea, coffee, alcohol, also affect the mucous lining of the stomach and irritate the digestive tract. These drinks, when taken with meals, encourage fermentation and produce gas. This increases the distension of the stomach, causing pressure against the diaphragm and the esophageal opening and greatly increasing the risk of herniation. Other causes include sedentary occupations, without sensible exercise, overweight resulting from overeating, smoking, shallow breathing and mental and emotional tensions.