Hernia – What is it, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Hernia – What is it, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments of this condition. Also, hernia occurs when an organ pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. For example, the intestines can rupture a weakened area in the abdominal wall .

Hernias are most common in the abdomen , but they can also appear in the upper thigh, belly , and groin areas. Most hernias are not immediately life-threatening, but they do not go away on their own and may require surgery to avoid potentially dangerous complications.

Types of Hernia:

Inguinal Hernia : Inguinal hernias are the most common type of Hernia . They account for about 70 percent of all hernias, according to the British Hernia Center (BHC). These hernias occur when the intestines push through a weak or torn spot in the lower abdominal wall , often in the inguinal canal.

The Inguinal Canal is found in your groin. In men, this is the area where the spermatic cord passes from the abdomen to the scrotum. This cord holds the testicles. In women, the inguinal canal contains a ligament that helps hold the uterus in place.

This type of hernia is more common in men than in women. This is because a man’s testicles descend through the inguinal canal shortly after birth, and the canal must close almost completely behind them. Sometimes the canal does not close properly and leaves a weakened area prone to hernias.

Hiatal Hernia: A hiatal hernia occurs when part of your stomach protrudes through the diaphragm into your chest. The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that helps you breathe by contracting and drawing air into your lungs . It separates the organs in your abdomen from those in your chest.

This type of hernia is more common in patients over 50 years of age. If a child has the condition, it is usually caused by a birth defect. Hiatal hernias almost always cause gastroesophageal reflux, which is when stomach contents flow backwards into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation.

Umbilical Hernia: Umbilical hernias can occur in children and infants younger than 6 months of age. This happens when your intestines protrude through your abdominal wall near your belly . You may notice a bulge in or near your baby’s belly button, especially when they are crying.

An umbilical hernia is the only type that often goes away on its own, typically by the time the child is 1 year old. If the hernia has not gone away by this point, surgery can be used to correct it.

Incisional Hernia: Incisional hernias can occur after having had an abdominal surgery . Your bowel can get in the way of the incision scar or surrounding weakened tissue.

Causes of Hernia: Hernias are caused by a combination of muscle weakness and tension. Depending on its cause, a hernia can develop quickly or over a long period of time. Common causes of muscle weakness include:

  • Failure of the abdominal wall to close properly in the uterus, which is a birth defect
  • chronic cough
  • Damage from injury or surgery

Factors that damage your body and can cause a hernia , especially if your muscles are weak, include:

  • Being pregnant, which puts pressure on the abdomen
  • Being constipated, which makes you strain when having a bowel movement
  • lift heavy weight
  • Fluid in the abdomen or ascites
  • gaining weight
  • Persistent coughing or sneezing

Hernia Risk Factors: Factors that increase the risk of developing a hernia include:

  • A personal or family history of hernias
  • Being overweight or obese
  • a chronic cough
  • chronic constipation
  • Smoking, which can trigger a chronic cough
  • Conditions like cystic fibrosis can also indirectly increase your risk of developing a hernia . Cystic fibrosis impairs lung function , causing a chronic cough.

Hernia Symptoms: The most common symptom of a Hernia is a bulge or lump in the affected area. In the case of an inguinal hernia , you may notice a lump on either side of the pubic bone where your groin and thigh meet. You are more likely to feel your hernia through touch when you are standing.

  • If your baby has a hernia , you may only feel the bulge when he or she is crying. A bulge is usually the only symptom of an umbilical hernia .

Other common symptoms of an inguinal hernia include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the affected area (usually the lower abdomen ), especially when bending over, coughing, or lifting
  • Weakness, pressure or heaviness in the abdomen
  • A burning sensation, sore throats, or pain at the site of the lump

Other symptoms of a hiatal hernia include:

In some cases, hernias have no symptoms. You may not know you have a hernia unless it appears during a routine physical or medical exam for an unrelated problem.

Hernia Diagnoses: Inguinal hernias or incisions are usually diagnosed through a physical exam. Your doctor may feel a bulge in your abdomen or groin that gets bigger when you stand, cough, or strain.

  • If you have a hiatal hernia , your doctor can diagnose it with a barium x-ray or endoscopy. These tests allow your doctor to see the internal location of the stomach :
  • A barium X-ray is a series of X-ray images of your digestive tract. The images are recorded after they have finished drinking a liquid solution containing barium, which shows up well in the X-ray images.
  • An endoscopy involves threading a small camera attached to a tube down the throat and into the esophagus and stomach .

If your child has an umbilical hernia , your doctor may perform an ultrasound. An ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of structures within the body.

Hernia Treatments: Whether or not you need treatment depends on the size of the hernia and the severity of your symptoms. Your doctor may simply monitor your hernia for possible complications. Treatment options for a hernia include:

Lifestyle Changes: Dietary changes can often treat the symptoms of a hiatal hernia . Avoid large or heavy meals, don’t lie down or bend over after a meal, and keep your body weight in a healthy range.

If these dietary changes don’t eliminate your discomfort, you may need surgery to correct the hernia . You can also improve symptoms by avoiding foods that cause acid reflux or heartburn, such as spicy foods and tomato-based foods. Also, you can prevent reflux by losing weight and giving up cigarettes.

Medication: If you have a hiatal hernia , over-the-counter and prescription medications that reduce stomach acid can ease your discomfort and improve your symptoms. These include antacids, H-2 receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors.

Surgery: If your hernia is growing or causing pain, your doctor may decide it’s best to operate. Your doctor can repair your hernia by cutting the hole in the abdominal wall closed during surgery. This is most commonly done by correcting the hole with surgical mesh.

Hernias can be repaired with open or laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopic surgery uses a small camera and miniaturized surgical equipment to repair the hernia using just a few small incisions. Laparoscopic surgery is less harmful to the surrounding tissue.

Open surgery requires a longer recovery process. You may not be able to travel normally for up to six weeks. Laparoscopic surgery has a much shorter recovery time. However, the risk of your Hernia reappearing is higher. Also, not all hernias are suitable for laparoscopic repair, including those where a part of your intestines has moved down into your scrotum.

Useful links: 

Hernia Prevention: It is not possible to prevent the muscle weakness that allows a Hernia to occur . However, you can reduce the amount of strain you put on your body. This can help you prevent a Hernia or keep an existing Hernia from getting worse. Prevention tips include:

  • Do not smoke
  • Going to your doctor when you are sick to avoid developing a persistent cough
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Avoiding straining during bowel movements or urinating
  • Lifting objects with your knees, not your back
  • Avoiding lifting weights that are too heavy for you

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