High Diaphragm

By | June 10, 2022

Physicians understand an elevated diaphragm as a change in the position of the diaphragm. It curves upwards toward the thorax. The causes of an elevated diaphragm can vary and do not always require medical treatment.

What is an elevated diaphragm?

When experts speak of an elevated diaphragm, they mean a cranial, i.e. upward bulging of the diaphragm. The muscle-tendon plate that separates the abdominal cavity and chest cavity moves upwards towards the chest. This shift can take place both to the left and to the right. For hip joint inflammation definition and meaning, please visit howsmb.com.

The high position of the diaphragm forms the opposite of the low position of the diaphragm, in which the bulge is downwards in the direction of the abdomen. The high diaphragm is not an independent disease, but usually an accompanying symptom of an existing disease. It is not uncommon for the affected person to visit the doctor because of the symptoms caused by the diaphragmatic bulge, such as shortness of breath or flatulence.

However, the diagnosis is usually an incidental finding. The type of treatment depends to a large extent on the underlying condition that is responsible for the change in position of the diaphragm.


The diaphragm often rises when there is a change in the thoracic abdomen, as a result of which the musculo-tendon plate cannot maintain its original position. This can include a malformation of the lungs or pneumonia.

An existing scoliosis is considered to be a possible cause of the high diaphragm as well as a heart attack. Liver disease, such as fatty or congestive liver disease, or a cyst or tumor in this region, can cause the diaphragm to bulge upwards.

A significantly enlarged spleen is also a potential trigger for the symptoms. During pregnancy, it is not uncommon for the diaphragm to bulge as the fetus grows. In this case, it is not a disease, but a natural condition that occurs as a consequence of the expanding uterus.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The main symptoms of an elevated diaphragm are respiratory problems. In mild cases, only the ability to breathe is somewhat restricted. However, it can also lead to severe shortness of breath. Furthermore, the patient suffers from a feeling of pressure on the costal arch. Breathing is additionally strained during physical exertion or when eating.

The same also applies to flatulence. However, flatulence is often the result of an elevated diaphragm. Pain occurs only when breathing or when pressure is applied. Viewed in isolation, an elevated diaphragm is easily treatable. However, it is caused by repression processes that are often triggered by the enlargement of internal organs.

Therefore, the respective cause must be treated. The accompanying symptoms depend on the underlying disease. So there is left-sided, right-sided and bilateral elevated diaphragm. Since the symptoms are similar in all three forms, only a detailed examination can provide information about the type of disease. The right dome of the diaphragm can be raised with an enlarged liver and the left with an enlarged spleen or changes in the gastrointestinal tract.

Elevated diaphragms on both sides may indicate diaphragmatic inflammation, paralysis of the diaphragm, a tumor or changes in the abdominal cavity. Diaphragm inflammation sometimes occurs as a result of an elevated diaphragm. It is characterized by a painful and severe restriction of respiratory function and can be life-threatening.

Diagnosis & History

If there is a suspicion of an elevated diaphragm, an extensive discussion with the patient takes place first. In this way, the exact complaints are determined, and it is not uncommon for a possible cause to arise that can be considered in the specific case.

In most cases, the physician gains certainty through a corresponding X-ray, which makes the change in position of the diaphragm visible. CT and MRI scans are also conceivable to support the diagnosis. The course of an elevated diaphragm depends largely on the underlying disease.

If the bulge occurs due to pregnancy, there is no need to worry as it will go away on its own after the birth. If left untreated, fatty liver can lead to further liver disease and, in the worst case, to the formation of a tumour. If left untreated, this can be life-threatening for the patient.


An elevated diaphragm does not always have to lead to complications or serious problems. For this reason, medical treatment is not always necessary. However, those affected can suffer from very severe shortness of breath and breathing difficulties if the diaphragm is elevated.

In this case, shortness of breath can cause the skin to turn blue. The organs and the brain are no longer supplied with sufficient oxygen. If the disease is not treated, the internal organs can also be irreversibly damaged. Shortness of breath can also occur.

Due to the breathing difficulties, many of those affected can no longer actively participate in everyday life and also cannot do any sporting or strenuous activities. The patient’s everyday life is severely restricted by the disease and the quality of life is reduced as a result. Fatty liver and other liver diseases can also occur due to the high diaphragm and possibly have a negative effect on the life expectancy of the person concerned.

The disease is usually treated without complications and always depends on the underlying disease. In most cases, however, the symptoms can be reactively limited and alleviated.

When should you go to the doctor?

A doctor should be consulted in the event of breathing disorders or impairments. Concern arises when irregularities persist or increase over a period of time. If the impairment of breathing activity leads to states of anxiety, sleep disorders or panic reactions, a doctor must be consulted immediately. If left untreated, shortness of breath can be life-threatening. Therefore, an investigation should be initiated as soon as there are problems in performing physical activities or exercising. If the usual tasks and obligations can no longer be carried out without complaints, it is advisable to clarify the cause.

In the case of flatulence, digestive problems, irregularities in the gastrointestinal tract, general malaise and a decrease in physical performance, you should consult a doctor. These are symptoms that indicate an existing disease and should therefore be followed up. If there is pressure pain, a feeling of tightness or irregularities when eating food, the person concerned needs medical help.

If there are discrepancies in everyday processes such as laughing, coughing and speaking, it is advisable to have them checked by a doctor. Behavioral abnormalities, apathy or withdrawal also indicate the existence of a health disorder. The irregularities must be discussed with a doctor.

Treatment & Therapy

If an elevated diaphragm has been clearly identified, the appropriate treatment method depends primarily on the existing underlying disease. As mentioned earlier, diaphragmatic bulging during pregnancy does not require treatment as it will go away on its own once the uterus reaches its normal size.

Under certain circumstances, however, the accompanying symptoms such as flatulence and breathing problems can be treated if they occur frequently and/or severely. Pneumonia is treated with medication. Since the culprits are usually bacteria, antibiotics are administered here to fight the infection. If the diaphragm is elevated due to being overweight, weight reduction is advisable. Eating smaller portions can also relieve pressure on the diaphragm.

If the liver is fatty, the patient’s weight may also need to be reduced. A change in diet can also alleviate the symptoms. A cyst or tumor often needs to be surgically removed to restore normal condition. If it is cancer, chemotherapy is also recommended. This stops the cancer cells from growing and destroys them.


In some cases, an elevated diaphragm can be effectively prevented. Since it is a symptom and not an independent disease, the preventive measures apply to the diseases that are responsible for the change in position.

A healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and sufficient exercise prevents obesity and fatty liver. Some cancers are also favored by an unhealthy lifestyle and can be prevented by changing habits. Obesity should always be reduced in order to avoid possible secondary diseases.

If there is frequent and severe flatulence and breathing problems, a doctor should be consulted as a precaution. He can determine whether the diaphragm is elevated and, if necessary, diagnose the underlying disease and initiate appropriate therapy.


In the follow-up care, one must assume that the underlying diseases for the elevated diaphragm were found and treated so that the diaphragm was able to position itself correctly again. However, depending on how long the affected patient has suffered from an elevated diaphragm, their breathing may still be restricted. Cigarettes are taboo in this case.

Regular breathing exercises make you aware of how much lung capacity there is, how deep you can breathe in and how long you can breathe out. There are special meditation courses that also offer breathing exercises, but breathing is also trained again and again in yoga. Breathing also stabilizes the oxygen supply to the body. Now the patient can start exercising again.

In any case, running or cycling in the fresh air is recommended because it stabilizes the heart and circulation. Sport also improves body awareness. This is particularly important when the diaphragmatic high point has occurred due to being overweight. Then a main focus should be to lose weight and then to keep your own body weight in the normal range.

There are a variety of diets to consider, all of which have been researched to be similarly successful, provided they are followed consistently. In any case, the patient should make sure to eat healthily and use fresh food, if possible from organic farming. Alcohol and sweet drinks should be avoided and plenty of clear water should be drunk instead.

You can do that yourself

In the case of an elevated diaphragm, a medical examination is necessary. Depending on the cause, various measures can be taken to support medical treatment.

If the high diaphragm is due to an organic condition such as fatty liver or a liver tumor, then rest and rest as well as an adjustment in diet apply. The patient is usually referred to a specialist who can provide further advice. If the diaphragm is elevated during pregnancy, the bulge must first and foremost be observed. The most important self-help measure is to pay attention to unusual symptoms and conditions and to report them to the doctor.

If the high diaphragm is due to scoliosis, further measures such as taking alternative remedies are useful. A malformation of the lungs can only be treated surgically. However, there are special lung exercises that can bring relief. Even in the case of paralysis of the diaphragm, the self-help measures are limited to adhering to the doctor’s instructions. If splenomegaly or its cause is responsible for the high diaphragm, depending on the trigger, the diet must be changed (in the case of iron deficiency anemia) or the condition cured by rest (in the case of infectious causes such as viral hepatitis or mononucleosis).

Due to the many possible causes of an elevated diaphragm, the self-help measures should be discussed in detail with a specialist.

High Diaphragm