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What is hernia?

A hernia is an abnormal protrusion of an organ through an opening in the muscle or tissue. It's a localized bulge of an organ or tissue through a weak spot in muscle or tissue. Most of the hernias occur in the abdominal cavity where a piece of intestine or fatty lining of the colon protrudes through the weak muscle walls. In addition to it, it is also found in the groin, upper part of the stomach, and belly button area. The surrounding muscles or the connective tissue of muscular walls are unable to hold the organs in place.

What are the types of Hernia?

The most common forms of hernia are:

  • Inguinal hernia occurs when fatty tissue or a part of the intestine or bladder bulges through the abdominal wall or at the top of the inner thigh. This is the most common type of abdominal hernia and mostly occurs in men than women.
  • A femoral hernia occurs when fatty tissue or a part of an intestine enters the space for the femoral artery and vein pass from the abdomen into the upper leg. It frequently occurs in women.
  • Umbilical hernia causes abnormal bulging in the belly button because the part of the small intestine passes through the naval. It is very common in new-borns that often recover on their own.
  • Epigastric hernias occur in infants where the weak muscular tissue bulges at the midline of the abdominal wall.
  • Hiatal hernias occur when part of the stomach squeezes through the hiatus, an opening in the diaphragm that separates the chest from the abdomen.
  • An incisional hernia occurs at the place of the abdominal wall where the previous surgery is done. These muscles already become weak through early repair and surgery so potentially allow the abdominal muscle to protrudes.

What are the causes & Risk Factors?

A hernia is present at the time of birth or develops overtime at the weak places of the abdominal wall. Some common causes of muscle weakness and hernia are:

  • Straining during bowel movements due to long time constipation
  • Increased pressure within the abdomen during the development in the womb
  • Persistent coughing or sneezing
  • Tumors or damage in the abdomen due to an injury or surgery
  • Increased fluid within the abdominal cavity or ascites

There are some factors that can increase the risk of hernia:

  • Family history of hernia
  • Aging people
  • Pregnancy
  • Overweight or Obese
  • Chronic constipating
  • Smoking and certain chemicals
  • Physical exertion

What are the symptoms?

A hernia is easily noticed with increased lumps or swelling in the affected area. More symptoms of a hernia are:

  • Burning or sharp pain because of inguinal hernia in the groin
  • Swelling or bulge in the groin or scrotum
  • Discomfort and pain around the area of the lump
  • Sharp and tearing pain during weight lifting
  • Increased bulge size that cannot be pushed into the abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heartburn, indigestion, and bowel obstruction

How is it diagnosed?

To diagnose the condition of hernia:

  • Physical examination confirms the bulge or swelling in the abdominal or groin area.
  • Abdominal ultrasound creates an image of the inside structure of the hernia.
  • CT scan combines with X-rays correctly diagnose the digestive tract and take pictures of hernia
  • MRI uses radio waves to generate images of the hernia.
  • Endoscopy goes into the esophagus and stomach and capture the images of weak tissue from where the organs are protruding

What are the treatment options?

Treatment options depend on the individual condition of the hernia, and the location of the hernia. Enlarging or painful hernias need surgical treatment to relieve discomfort and pain.

  • Open surgery directly repairs the hernia by incising at the location of the hernia and then pushes back the protruding tissue into the abdomen. The surgical wound is closed with stitches.
  • Laparoscopic surgery uses a small camera-equipped tube to insert into the abdominal wall and destroy the hernia without damaging the surrounding tissue. It is a minimal invasive procedure that avoids infection and allows quick recovery. It is recommended for treating hernias in children.

You may experience pain and discomfort at the surgical location. Follow-up care is needed for wound care and instructions. Sometimes healthy diet, lifestyle changes, and weight loss may help control symptoms and minimize the need for surgery.


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