Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
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Hiatal Hernia and Breathlessness

Thursday, 18 Aug 2011 08:29 AM


Question: I was diagnosed with a hernia in my abdomen, but I have not had it removed. Can hernias cause difficulty breathing? My abdomen is very bloated, and my breathing seems to be labored even when I’m at at rest.

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

Most hernias will not affect your ability to breath. An abdominal hernia is weakness or a traumatic tear that allows abdominal bowel contents to extrude from its normal location. Your breathing is usually not affected unless your diaphragm has been compromised and allows your bowel to crowd the chest cavity space normally occupied by the lung.

A common hernia, called a hiatal hernia, is a partial herniation of the stomach wall upward toward the chest into the space normally occupied by the esophagus. A hiatal hernia will not cause shortness of breath.

Your shortness of breath is a concern and should be assessed without delay. If your doctor is unavailable or unsure, go to the emergency department and request an evaluation. Most emergency medicine physicians are excellent diagnosticians and will make sure you receive the care you need to manage your condition.



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