Can a Hiatal Hernia Cause Coughing?

Women Coughing

Yes, a hiatal hernia can sometimes lead to coughing and other respiratory symptoms. A hiatal hernia occurs when part of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm and into the chest cavity, which can affect the normal functioning of the esophagus and cause various symptoms, including coughing. Here’s how a hiatal hernia can be related to coughing:

  • Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD): Hiatal hernias are often associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). When the stomach is displaced through the diaphragm, it can lead to a weakened lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscular ring that separates the esophagus from the stomach. This weakening of the LES can result in the backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus, causing irritation and inflammation. Acid reflux, in turn, can lead to a range of symptoms, including heartburn, regurgitation, and coughing.
  • Aspiration: In some cases, stomach acid or partially digested food may be aspirated (inhaled) into the lungs. This can lead to irritation of the airways and coughing. Aspiration can occur during episodes of acid reflux or regurgitation, which are more common in individuals with hiatal hernias.
  • Chronic Cough: Coughing is a common symptom of GERD, often referred to as “acid reflux cough.” The irritation of the esophagus and airways due to acid reflux can lead to a persistent, chronic cough. This cough is typically dry and unproductive, and it may worsen when lying down or after eating.

It’s important to note that not everyone with a hiatal hernia will develop coughing or experience symptoms of GERD. The severity of symptoms can vary among individuals. If you have a hiatal hernia and are experiencing chronic coughing, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare provider. They can evaluate your condition, recommend appropriate diagnostic tests if needed, and provide guidance on managing and treating your symptoms. Treatment options may include lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, medications to reduce acid reflux, and, in some cases, surgical interventions to repair the hiatal hernia.

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