Can a hiatal hernia cause dizziness? (+1 facts)

In this article, we will discuss dizziness associated with hiatal hernia. We will also discuss how hiatal hernia causes dizziness and how you can manage dizziness associated with hiatal hernia.

Can a hiatal hernia cause dizziness?

Yes, a hiatal hernia may cause dizziness. Dizziness may occur in any kind of hernia, but it is more common with hiatal hernia. Dizziness and lightheadedness may occur when a hiatal hernia puts pressure on the nearby blood vessels and nerves.

Although rarely reported, dizziness is considered one of the symptoms of hiatal hernia syndrome. A hiatal hernia puts undue pressure on your stomach. This pressure may cause your stomach acid to flow up your oesophagus, leading to acid reflux.

When acid refluxes into the upper gastrointestinal system it may affect the tube leading to the inner ear. This irritates the ear canal, causing your ear to swell. The irritation and swelling may cause loss of balance, dizziness, and lightheadedness (1).

What does research suggest?

In one of the clinical reports, a 76-year-old woman presented with dizziness, lightheadedness, and swallowing difficulty due to a huge hiatal hernia. The hernia had put pressure on the chest and had collapsed her left atrium (2).

In another clinical report, an 80-year-old woman experienced dizziness and a vague sensation of ‘spinning inside’. She also lost her balance while walking, and getting out of the car. Her case history signified a hiatal hernia along with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) (3).

In one of the case reports, a 37-year-old male complained of dizziness, fatigue, and dyspnea on exertion. The patient was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia with small linear erosions in the hernial sac (a condition known as Cameron lesions) (4).

What other diseases may cause dizziness with hiatal hernia?

Sometimes another underlying disease may cause dizziness if you also have a hiatal hernia. Some of the examples include (5,6):

  • Sinus bradycardia due to gastric distention,
  • Cardiovascular diseases like cardiac arrhythmia, heart attack, stroke, and ischemic attack,
  • Orthostatic hypotension,
  • Anxiety disorders like agoraphobia (fear of open spaces), fear of heights, and panic attacks,
  • Low iron levels, often referred to as anaemia,
  • Low blood sugar level, often referred to as hypoglycemia, and
  • Dehydration.

What to do if hiatal hernia-induced dizziness persists?

There are a few things you can do to reduce hiatal hernia-induced dizziness, including:

Talk to your doctor

It is important to discuss hiatal hernia-induced dizziness with your doctor. Sometimes you may mistake dizziness induced by other factors with hiatal hernia-induced dizziness. Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter (OTC) medication for dizziness.


Your doctor may prescribe antihistamines and anticholinergic agents to treat hiatal hernia-induced dizziness. Meclizine is an OTC antihistamine that is often prescribed to treat dizziness and nausea. However, they may cause drowsiness. 

The OTC meclizine (25 mg tablet) is used to treat mild symptoms of dizziness. However, if you have a severe condition then prescription meclizine is also available at higher doses. However, your doctor will be the better judge for a suitable dose of meclizine.

Anticholinergic agents like dimenhydrinate may be given to reduce dizziness caused by hiatal hernia. Dimenhydrinate may cause drowsiness and make your eyes more sensitive to light. However, non-sedative anticholinergics are not as effective as dimenhydrinate.


Surgery is one of the most effective ways of treating hiatal hernia. Laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication (LNF) is the most common surgical procedure for sliding hiatal hernia. Surgery is a long-term cure for dizziness, acid reflux, and swallowing problems associated with hiatal hernia.

Drink plenty of water

Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water in a day as dehydration may worsen hiatal hernia-induced dizziness. Dehydration can also lower your blood pressure and make you feel more dizzy than usual.

Lifestyle practices

If you feel dizzy due to a hiatal hernia, lie down as soon as possible and close your eyes. Try to relax and avoid unnecessary blue-screen time (such as mobile phones, TVs, and laptops). If you are overheated, go to an air-conditioned room and get a cool drink.

In my experience as a pharmacist and available information, hiatal hernia can cause dizziness. If you are experiencing prolonged dizziness while also having a hiatal hernia, reach out to your doctor for personalized guidance and appropriate treatment.

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Poelmans J, Tack J, Feenstra L. Prospective study on the incidence of chronic ear complaints related to gastroesophageal reflux and on the outcome of antireflux therapy. Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology. 2002 Oct;111(10):933-8.


Maekawa T, Suematsu M, Shimada T, Go M, Shimada T. Unusual swallow syncope caused by huge hiatal hernia. Internal medicine. 2002;41(3):199-201.


Steensma DP, Matteson EL. 80-year-old woman with dizziness. InMayo Clinic Proceedings 1997 Aug 1 (Vol. 72, No. 8, pp. 781-784). Elsevier.


Ghosheh F. Cameron Lesions: Unusual Cause of Profound Anemia: 571. Official journal of the American College of Gastroenterology| ACG. 2009 Oct 1;104:S213.


Saeed M, Bhandohal JS, Visco F, Pekler G, Mushiyev S. Gastrocardiac syndrome: A forgotten entity. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2018 Aug 1;36(8):1525-e5.


Sloane PD, Coeytaux RR, Beck RS, Dallara J. Dizziness: state of the science. Annals of internal medicine. 2001 May 1;134(9_Part_2):823-32.