Basketball player Tyson Chandler's hiatal hernia helped cost him his place on the Chicago Bulls team because the hernia made it painful for him to breathe and forced him to miss several games. Colby Rasmus, center fielder with the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, lost 23 lbs. during his first year on the team. His hiatal hernia caused fatigue and vomiting that affected his performance. If you have a hiatal hernia, it can get worse during exercise and sports and needs to be managed carefully.
Food reaches your stomach by sliding down a long tube, the esophagus. A sheet of internal muscle, the diaphragm, runs above the top of your stomach, keeping your stomach out of your chest area. A small opening in the diaphragm, the hiatus, allows the esophagus tube to reach your stomach. A hiatal hernia occurs when part of your stomach bulges upward through the small opening in the diaphragm into the chest area.
Hiatal hernias occur when the opening in the diaphragm, the hiatus, weakens. The Penn State College of Medicine, in an essay, "Hiatal Hernias," lists the following causes of this weakness: excessive weight gain, physical activity that puts pressure on the abdomen, such as lifting heavy objects, strained bowel movements caused by constipation, pregnancy, severe, constant coughing and major vomiting attacks. Some babies are born with hiatal hernias.
Hiatal hernia symptoms can mimic other ailments. You may experience heartburn, because stomach acid can now move out of the stomach and back up the esophageal tube. The heartburn can worsen and cause gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, in which you experience nausea, vomiting and chest pain after meals. The acid reflux may irritate your throat. The chest pain can imitate a heart attack. You can develop complications from an untreated hiatal hernia, such as esophageal cancer, from acid damage to your esophagus or the hernia may start internal...