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Stomach Conditions

Hiatal Hernia

A hiatal hernia is a common condition in which the upper portion of the stomach protrudes into the chest cavity through an opening in the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a muscular structure which separates the chest and abdominal cavities. Normally the stomach resides completely below the diaphragm in the abdominal cavity. A hiatal hernia often contributes to gastroesophageal reflux disease (the abnormal backflow of stomach contents and acid up into the esophagus). Many patients with a hiatal hernia have no symptoms others complain of heartburn, regurgitation or bloating. On occasion, a large hiatal hernia can twist on itself and cause severe abdominal pain. Symptoms from a hiatal hernia typically respond to acid reducing medications and dietary modification. Large symptomatic hernias unresponsive to these measures can be repaired surgically.

Gastritis

An inflammation of the lining of the stomach is called gastritis. It most commonly occurs in patients taking aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) or in people infected with a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Although many patients with gastritis have no symptoms, it can cause abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or bleeding. Gastritis is often treated by medications which reduce acid production and by eliminating inciting medications. Patients with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection should also receive antibiotic therapy to eliminate the infection from the stomach as this will reduce the risk of developing peptic ulcer disease and cancer of the stomach.

Stomach Ulcer

An open sore on the lining of the stomach is also known as a stomach ulcer. Patients with an ulcer of the stomach often complain of a burning or gnawing pain in the upper abdomen, especially after eating. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting or bleeding (vomiting blood or passing black or bloody stools). Stomach ulcers most commonly occur in patients taking aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) or in people infected with a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Cancerous growths can also cause ulceration of stomach lining. Stomach ulcers are easily treated by medications which reduce acid production. Patients with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection should also receive antibiotic therapy to eliminate the infection from the stomach as this will reduce the risk of ulcer recurrence.

Gastroparesis

This is a disorder characterized by abnormal emptying of food from the stomach into the small intestine. After ingestion into the stomach, food is normally ground into smaller pieces, mixed with acid and other digestive enzymes and then slowly released into the small intestine over several hours. In patients with gastroparesis this process is delayed and food remains in the stomach for prolonged periods of time. Patients often complain of bloating after meals, filling up after only a few bites of food, nausea, vomiting, and even abdominal pain. Gastroparesis may be a complication of long-standing diabetes, a side effect from certain medications or the result of a recent viral illness. Treatment consists of dietary modification and medications which promote more efficient stomach motor function.