A hernia transpires when an organ pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. For instance, the intestines may break through a weakened area in the abdominal wall.
Many hernias transpire in the abdomen between your chest and hips, but they can also appear in the upper thigh and groin areas.
Most hernias aren’t instantly life-threatening, but they don’t be eliminated on their own. Sometimes they can require surgery to stop dangerous complications.
Signs of a hernia
The most common and dangerous symptom of a hernia is a bulge or lump in the affected area. For instance, in the case of an inguinal hernia, you may notice a lump on either side of your pubic bone where your groin and thigh meet.
You may find that the lump goes when you’re lying down. You’re more likely to feel your hernia through touch when you’re standing up, bending down, or coughing. Discomfort or pain in the area around the lump may also be present.
Some types of hernia, such as Hiatal hernias, can have more specific symptoms. These can include situations like heartburn, trouble swallowing, and chest pain.
In many cases, hernias have no symptoms. You may not know you have a hernia unless it shows up during a routine physical or a medical exam for an unrelated problem.
How to recover from a hernia?
Hernias can cause life-threatening complications. You must seek emergency care if you experience symptoms such as nausea or vomiting, fever, or sudden pain.
Early medical care and lifestyle changes can reduce symptoms. However, surgery is the only way to effectively treat hernias. There are different types of surgeries available to improve hernias, and your doctor can advise on which one is right for your health.
The prognosis for hernia repair surgery is generally very safe but can depend on the type of hernia, your symptoms, and your overall well-being. In some cases, the hernia may recur following repair.
What are the main causes of a hernia?
Some common causes of muscle weakness or strain that can point to a hernia include:
- a congenital condition that occurs during development in the womb and is present from birth
- damage from an injury or surgery
- chronic coughing or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)
- strenuous exercise or lifting heavyweights
- pregnancy, especially having multiple pregnancies
- constipation, which causes you to strain when having a bowel movement
- being overweight or obese
- fluid in the abdomen, or ascites
Certain things can increase your risk of developing a hernia. They include:
- a personal or family history of hernias
- being older
- being overweight or obese
- chronic constipation
- chronic cough (likely due to the repetitive increase in abdominal pressure)
- cystic fibrosis
- smoking (leading to weakening of connective tissue)
- being born prematurely or with a low birth weight
How to diagnose a hernia?
To diagnose your condition, your doctor will first perform a physical examination. During this examination, your doctor may feel for growth in your abdominal or groin area that gets larger when you stand, cough, or strain.
Your surgeon will then take your medical history. They may ask you a variety of topics, including things like:
- When did you first notice the bulge?
- Have you felt any other symptoms?
- Do you think that there was something in particular that may have caused it to occur?
- Tell me a little bit about your lifestyle. Does your occupation involve heavy lifting? Do you exercise vigorously? Have you smoked before?
- Do you have a personal or family history of hernias?
- Have you had any surgeries in the area of your abdomen or groin?
Your doctor will also likely use imaging tests to aid in their diagnosis. These can include things like:
- abdominal ultrasound, which utilizes high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the structures inside the body
- CT scan, which combines X-rays with computer technology to produce an image
- MRI scan, which uses a combination of strong magnets and radio waves to make an image
If a hiatal hernia is suspected, your doctor may use other tests that allow them to assess the internal location of your stomach:
- Gastrografin or barium X-ray, which is a series of X-ray pictures of your digestive tract. The pictures are recorded after you’ve finished drinking a liquid containing diatrizoate meglumine and diatrizoate sodium (Gastrografin) or a liquid barium solution. Both show up well on the X-ray images.
- Endoscopy, which involves threading a small camera attached to a tube down your throat and into your esophagus and stomach.
Hernia surgery / Herniorrhaphy/ Inguinal hernia surgery
If your hernia is getting larger or making pain, your doctor may decide it’s best to operate. They may repair your hernia by sewing the hole in the abdominal wall closed during surgery, called herniorrhaphy.
If it is a direct hernia, which is bulging from the wall of the abdomen, the surgeon will push the contents back into position and fix it thereby repairing the weak area. It can be done by stitching the margins of healthy muscle tissue with each other. This procedure of herniorrhaphy is only applicable for small bulges.
Hernioplasty/ Mesh for hernia
When the area of weakening is large, surgeons go for hernioplasty. This is commonly begun by patching the hole with surgical mesh. A surgical mesh for hernia is a device placed by your surgeon around the damaged hernial tissues. It is fixed in place by stitches, staples, or glue. Mesh for hernia supports the weakened tissues.
Hernias can be improved with either open or laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopic surgery uses a tiny camera and miniaturized surgical tools to repair the hernia using only a few small incisions. It’s also less damaging to the surrounding tissue.
During open surgery, the specialist makes an incision close to the site of the hernia and then pushes the bulging tissue back into the abdomen. They then sew the area shut, sometimes reinforcing it with surgical mesh. Finally, they close the incision.
Not all hernias are suitable for laparoscopic surgery. If your hernia requires an open surgical repair, your surgeon will work with you to determine which type of surgery is best for your condition.
After your surgery, you may experience pain around the surgical site. Your surgeon will prescribe medication to help ease this trouble while you recover.
Be sure to carefully understand your surgeon’s instructions involving wound care. Contact them promptly if you notice any signs of infection such as fever, redness or drainage at the site, or pain that suddenly worsens.
Following your hernia repair, you may be unable to move around normally for several weeks. You’ll need to avoid any strenuous activity. plus, you should avoid lifting objects heavier than 10 pounds during this period. This is approximately the weight of a gallon of milk.
Open surgery often requires a longer recovery process than laparoscopic surgery. Your surgeon will let you know when you can retreat to your normal routine.
Types of hernia
There are numerous different types of hernias. Here, we’ll examine some of the most basic ones.
Inguinal hernias are the most common type especially of hernia in men. It occurs when the intestines push through a weak spot or tear in the lower abdominal wall, often in the inguinal canal.
The inguinal canal is found in your groin. In men, it’s the area where the spermatic cord passes from the abdomen to the scrotum. This cord holds up the testicles. In women, the inguinal canal contains a ligament that helps hold the uterus in place.
These hernias are more prevalent in men because the testicles descend through the inguinal canal shortly after birth. The canal is supposed to close almost completely behind them. Sometimes the canal doesn’t close properly, leaving a weakened area.
Inguinal hernia may be direct or indirect.
Direct inguinal hernia:
It is caused by weakness in the muscles of the abdominal wall. It is the most common type of hernia in men. In women, it is less common as the round ligament of the uterus provides additional support to the contents of the abdomen.
Indirect inguinal hernia:
It is caused due to a developmental defect in the abdominal wall. An indirect inguinal hernia occurs in 5 percent of the newborns and affects about 30 percent of premature babies. It is often discovered in the first year of life. However, it may present in adulthood.
Scrotal Hernia/ hernia in men
An indirect inguinal hernia is referred to as a scrotal hernia when the contents of the hernia descend into the scrotum. It occurs under constant abdominal pressure. A scrotal hernia presents as a scrotal swelling and is more likely to be subjected to strangulation. It can be prevented by early diagnosis and inguinal hernia surgery
Hiatal hernia / Hernia stomach
A hiatal hernia occurs when part of your stomach protrudes up through the diaphragm into your chest cavity. The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that helps you breathe by contracting and drawing air into the lungs. It separates the organs in your abdomen from those in your chest.
This type of hernia is most common in people over 50 years old. If a child has the condition, it’s typically caused by a congenital birth defect.
Hiatal hernias almost always cause gastroesophageal reflux, which is when the stomach contents leak backward into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation. Get more information on Hiatal hernias.
Umbilical hernia / Belly button hernia
These hernias are known as belly button hernias in simple language. It is more common in children and infants.
Umbilical hernia baby
Umbilical hernias can befall in children and babies. This happens when their intestines bulge through their abdominal wall near their belly button causing a belly button hernia. You may notice a bulge in or near your child’s belly button, especially when they’re crying.
An umbilical hernia is the only kind that often goes away on its own as the abdominal wall muscles get stronger, typically by the time the child is 1 or 2 years old. If the hernia hasn’t gone away by 5 years of age, surgery can be used to revive it.
Grown-ups can also have umbilical hernias. This can occur from repeated strain on the abdomen due to things like obesity, pregnancy, or fluid in the abdomen (ascites). Learn additional details about umbilical hernias.
Umbilical hernia surgery
This is relatively a quick and easy procedure. This procedure takes only 20-30 minutes. Before the operation, the doctor will brief you about eating instructions. This procedure will be held under general or local anesthesia depending upon the condition of the disease and the person. Umbilical hernia surgery may involve herniorrhaphy or hernioplasty in which a surgical mesh for hernia is placed upon the defect.
A ventral hernia occurs when tissue bulges through an opening in the muscles of your abdomen. You may notice that the size of a ventral hernia reduces when you’re lying down.
Although a ventral hernia can be present from birth, it’s more commonly acquired at some point during your lifetime. Common factors in ventral hernia formation include things like obesity, strenuous activity, and pregnancy.
Ventral hernias can also happen at the site of a surgical incision. This is called an incisional hernia and can happen due to surgical scarring or weakness of the abdominal muscles at the surgical site. Continue reading to discover more about ventral hernias.
Spigelian hernia is the type of ventral hernia in which there is weakening in the Spigelian fascia. It is due to the weakening in the Spigelian aponeurosis, the fascia between rectus and lateral oblique muscle groups. It causes a bulge through the hole in the anterolateral part of the abdominal wall.
The bulge can be of omentum, fat, or bowel. A Spigelian hernia will appear as a bulge or swelling below or to the side of the umbilicus. You must seek medical attention if the Spigelian hernia causes discomfort, pain, vomiting, or any other signs.
An epigastric hernia occurs when the abdominal wall tissues are not closed completely leaving a weakened area in the wall of the abdomen. Fat pushes out through this defect and cause a hernia in the epigastric region.
Fever, nausea, vomiting, and an increase in abdominal pain are alarming symptoms of an epigastric hernia. These symptoms are indicators of a bowel blockage and you need immediate medical attention.
An epigastric hernia can only be treated by surgery even in infants. Without surgery, it can cause additional complications and enlargement of hernia leading to abdominal pain. Depending upon the size of the defect, you may either need sutures or an implanted mesh for a hernia to repair it.
Congenital diaphragmatic hernia
The diaphragm is the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. A congenital diaphragmatic hernia takes place when the diaphragm is not closed properly in the course of prenatal development. This defect allows the abdominal contents(intestine, stomach &/or liver) to ascend into chest thereby affecting the development of lungs.
This is a type of congenital diaphragmatic hernia in which the defect is in the posterolateral part of diaphragm allowing the abdominal contents to bulge through it. It causes a mechanical compression on the growing lung parenchyma.
The symptoms of bochdalek hernia are typically respiratory and occur in the pediatric age group. The improper development of the lung leads to lung hypoplasia. The treatment of bochdalek hernia is the surgical closure of the defect in the diaphragm.
Treatment for hernia
The only way to efficiently treat a hernia is through surgical repair. Though, whether or not you need surgery depends on the size of your hernia and the severity of your symptoms.
Your doctor may want to simply observe your hernia for possible complications. This is called watchful waiting.
In some cases, wearing a truss may help to ease the symptoms of hernias. This is a supportive undergarment that helps to hold the hernia in place. It can provide short term relief before you go for inguinal hernia surgery. You should always see your doctor make sure that a truss fits properly before using it.
If you have a hiatal hernia, over-the-counter, and prescription medications that reduce stomach acid can relieve your discomfort and improve symptoms. These include antacids, H-2 receptor blockers, and proton pump inhibitors.
Home cure of Hernia
While home remedies won’t cure your hernia, there are some ideas that you can do to help with your symptoms.
Increasing your fiber intake may help to relieve constipation that can cause straining during bowel movements, which can aggravate a hernia. Some cases of high-fiber foods include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Dietary changes can also assist with the signs of a hiatal hernia. Try to avoid large or heavy foods, don’t lie down or bend over after a meal, and keep your body weight in a healthy range.
To prevent acid reflux, avoid meals that may cause it, such as spicy foods and tomato-based foods. Plus, say no to smoke cigarettes that may also help.
Exercises for Hernia
Training and exercise may work to stimulate muscles around the hernia and promote weight loss, helping reduce some symptoms.
A study from 2018 Trusted Source shows the effects of an exercise program on obese individuals who were to undergo ventral hernia repair surgery. It was observed that people who completed the exercise program had fewer complications following surgery.
It’s important to learn that some types of exercise, such as weight lifting or exercises that strain the abdomen, may increase pressure in the area of the hernia. This may begin the hernia to bulge more. It also occurs in the case of wrongly done exercises.
If you become a hernia patient, it’s always best to discuss the activity with your doctor or physical therapist. They can work closely with you to let you know what exercises are fine to do and how to perform them properly to prevent irritating your hernias.
Hernia in infants
Between 10 and 25 percent of trusted sources of babies are born with an umbilical hernia. This type of hernia is also more common in babies who are born prematurely or born with low birth weight.
Umbilical hernias occur near the belly button. They form when the muscles surrounding the hole left by the umbilical cord don’t close properly. This causes a portion of the intestine to bulge out.
If your child has an umbilical hernia, you may notice it more when they’re screaming or coughing. Typically, umbilical hernias in children are painless. Nonetheless, when symptoms such as pain, vomiting, or swelling at the hernia site occur, you should seek emergency medical care.
Consult your child’s pediatrician if you notice that your child has an umbilical hernia. Umbilical hernias typically go away when a child is 1 or 2 years old. Though, if it doesn’t disappear by the age of 5, surgery can be used to adjust it.
If you’re pregnant and think that you have a hernia, be sure to discuss that with your doctor. They can evaluate it and determine if it poses any health risks.
Often, hernia repair can wait until after delivery. However, if a small hernia that’s present before or during the pregnancy begins to get larger or cause discomfort, surgery may be advised to repair it. The preferred time to do this is during the second trimester.
Hernias that have been earlier remedied may come back with later pregnancies. This is because pregnancy places a strain on abdominal muscle tissue that may have been weakened by surgery.
Hernias can also occur following a cesarean delivery, also known as a C-section. During a cesarean delivery, an incision is made into the abdomen and uterus. The baby is then delivered through these incisions. An incisional hernia can sometimes happen at the site of cesarean delivery.
A sports hernia is a painful injury of soft tissues in the groin region. It occurs due to sudden twisting or intense movements during sports. The sports hernia is a tear or strain in the muscles, tendon, or ligament. As it is not a traditional bulge of contents, the medical community uses the term “athletic pubelgia” for this injury.
A sports hernia can be treated by taking rest for 7-10 days, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications. Rarely, surgical intervention may require
Sometimes an untreated hernia can guide to potentially serious complications. Your hernia may grow and cause more symptoms. It may also put too much pressure on nearby tissues, which can cause swelling and pain in the surrounding area.
A portion of your intestine could also become trapped in the abdominal wall. This is called incarceration. Incarceration can obstruct your bowel and cause severe pain, nausea, or constipation.
If the trapped section of your intestines doesn’t get enough blood flow, it leads to a condition called a strangulated hernia. This can cause intestinal tissue to become infected or die. A strangulated hernia is life-threatening and requires immediate medical care. Early inguinal hernia surgery can prevent complications of strangulated hernia.
Some symptoms that can signal that you need to seek out emergency medical attention for your hernia include:
- a bulge that turns color to red or purple
- pain that suddenly gets worse
- nausea or vomiting
- not being able to pass gas or have bowel movements
Prevention of hernia
You can’t always prevent hernias from developing. Sometimes an existing inherited condition or previous surgery allows hernias to occur.
But, you can make some simple lifestyle adjustments to help you avoid getting hernias. These steps aim to decrease the amount of strain you place on your body.
Here is a few general hernia prevention knowledge:
- Quit smoking.
- Call your doctor when you’re sick to avoid developing a persistent cough.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Try not to strain while having a bowel movement or during urination.
- Eat satisfying high-fiber foods to prevent constipation.
- Do exercises that help to stimulate the muscles of your abdomen.
- Avoid lifting weights that are too difficult for you. If you must lift something heavy, bend at your knees and not your waist or back.