Hiatal hernia is a medical condition that involves the upper part of the stomach protruding through the diaphragm and into the chest cavity. This condition often coexists with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), creating a complex medical scenario. Leah will talk about the relationship between hiatal hernia and weight gain in veterans disability. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and potential service connection can provide valuable insights for veterans navigating the complexities of the VA disability system.
What is Hiatal Hernia?
A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach bulges through the diaphragm and into the chest cavity, where it does not belong. Common causes include genetic predisposition, smoking, and a significant factor—weight gain.
Link Between Hiatal Hernia and Obesity
Weight gain is identified as a major risk factor for hiatal hernia. Increased intra-abdominal pressure, often associated with obesity, can lead to the displacement of the stomach through the diaphragm. This relationship between hiatal hernia and obesity has significant implications for Veterans Disability, as it may serve as an intermediate link in understanding the progression of related conditions.
Symptoms of Hiatal Hernia
Symptoms of hiatal hernia can vary but often include heartburn, regurgitation of food, difficulty swallowing, chest or abdominal pain, and shortness of breath. These symptoms can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life and are frequently associated with GERD. Identifying and addressing these symptoms is crucial for both medical treatment and VA disability claims.
Service Connection for Hiatal Hernia
Understanding how hiatal hernia can be service-connected is essential for veterans seeking disability benefits. From a primary service connection standpoint, if a veteran is diagnosed with hiatal hernia during active duty or an incident during service caused the hernia, and the veteran continues to experience symptoms, they may be eligible for service connection. However, it’s crucial to seek advice from accredited legal representatives for precise information.
Secondary Service Connection: The Role of Obesity
In many cases, veterans may experience weight gain as a result of service-connected disabilities, creating a link between obesity and hiatal hernia. Various studies, such as the “Association of Obesity with Hiatal Hernia and Esophagitis,” emphasize that excessive body weight is a significant independent risk factor for hiatal hernia. Exploring this connection may strengthen disability claims.
Research Supporting the Link
To support the association between obesity and hiatal hernia, research articles such as “Visceral Fat Obesity is the Key Risk Factor for Development of Reflux Erosive Esophagitis” highlight the key role of obesity in the development of related conditions. Veterans can use such studies to discuss their situation with healthcare providers and seek assistance in documenting the connection for disability claims.
Tying Obesity to Service-Connected Disabilities
Veterans seeking disability benefits can establish a connection between their service-connected disabilities and obesity by demonstrating that their weight gain would not have occurred without the primary condition. Conditions like orthopedic issues limiting exercise, asthma affecting physical activities, or mental health issues contributing to unhealthy eating habits can serve as examples.
Rating System for Hiatal Hernia
Hiatal hernia is generally rated on a scale of 60%, 30%, and 10%, depending on the severity of symptoms. The criteria for each rating involve considerations such as pain, vomiting, weight loss, and their impact on overall health. It’s essential for veterans to understand these rating scales and work with medical professionals to accurately document their condition for the VA disability evaluation process.
Navigating the complexities of Veterans Disability, especially concerning conditions like hiatal hernia and obesity, requires a thorough understanding of the medical aspects and their interconnections. Veterans should work closely with healthcare providers, gather relevant research, and seek legal advice from accredited legal professionals like Veterans Service Officers, Accredited Claims Agents, and/or attorneys when needed to ensure a comprehensive and accurate presentation of their case. By highlighting the links between hiatal hernia, weight gain, and service-connected disabilities, veterans can enhance their chances of securing the disability benefits they deserve.
At Prestige Veteran Medical Consulting, a veteran-owned company, we specialize in Independent Medical Opinions (IMOs) known as Nexus letters.
Our purpose is to empower YOU, the veteran, to take charge of your medical evidence and provide you with valuable educational tools and research to guide you on your journey.
Understanding the unique challenges veterans face, our commitment lies in delivering exceptional service and support.
Leveraging an extensive network of licensed independent medical professionals, all well-versed in the medical professional aspects of the VA claims process, we review the necessary medical evidence to incorporate in our reports related to your VA Disability Claim.
Prestige Veteran Medical Consulting is not a law firm, accredited claims agent, or affiliated with the Veterans Administration or Veterans Services Organizations. However, we are happy to discuss your case with your accredited VA legal professional.