A hiatal hernia is a condition in which the upper part of the stomach bulges through an opening in the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the muscle wall that separates the stomach from the chest. The diaphragm helps keep acid from coming up into the esophagus. When there is a hiatal hernia, it's easier for the acid to come up. The leaking of acid from the stomach into the esophagus is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) .
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