Hernia: Symptoms, Types, Treatment, Surgery and Prevention

Hernia Overview

Hernia is a medical condition in which an organ pushes itself out of a weekened tissue wall or muscles. Mostly this condition occurs in abdominal region when intestine bulges out of abdominal region. There are various types of Hernia depending on the location of bulge. Sometimes it can be treated by medication, but in adverse conditions surgery is suggested immediately.

Symptoms of Hernia

Hernia usually occurs in two age groups. Before the age of one or after the age of Fifty. It doesn't mean that it can't happen in between. Everybody should have basic knowledge about Hernia and its symptoms. Sometimes kids under the age of one can't tell it if they are having hernia. Its the responsibility of parents to notice the condition and immediately concern the doctor. Most of the symptoms of Hernia are self-diagnosable.
Here are a few symptoms of Hernia:

  • A bulge coming out of body in Abdominal or Groin area. Location of bulge depends on the type of hernia.
  • The pain in bulge may vary from mild to severe.
  • The pain in the bulge increases with time if not treated.
  • Abdominal discomfort and tenderness.
  • Sometimes hernia can cause chest pain and pain with eating.
  • Most commonly hernia occurs on right side of abdomen.
  • Discomfort in coughing and going to toilet.

Causes of Hernia

  • Some previous open appendectomy can cause Hernia.
  • Sometimes its genetic and occur more often in certain families.
  • Smoking is also considered as one of the factors.
  • Hernia occur more often in obese people.
  • Putting stress on abdominal muscles, such as heavy weight lifting can sometimes cause hernia.
  • Constant constipation is also a risk factor for hernia.

Types of Hernia

Following Types of Hernia are based on the location of bulge.

  • Inguinal Hernias: Its most common type of hernia. More than 60% of total cases of hernias are Inguinal Hernias. It occurs more often in men. There is a inguinal canal, where a man's testicles must descend before birth, it leaves a space in the abdominal wall. If this space is not sealed properly naturally, then at some point in life the intestine might try to come towards that space into the inguinal canal. Thats why its called Inguinal Hernia. If inguinal hernia occurs on both sides (both inguinal canal ) then its called bilateral inguinal hernias.
  • Femoral Hernias: This type of hernia is more common in females. There is a space called femoral canal, a space near the femoral vein that carries blood from the leg. During Pregnancy or Childbirth the intestinal sac can drop into this femoral space due to pressure in the abdominal region. Femoral hernia can cause complications during pregnancy hence advised to repair as soon as they are noticed.
  • Ventral Hernias: Also known by other name incisional hernia, occur on a site of previous surgery in the abdominal region. It can occur weeks, months or years after surgery.
  • Umbilical Hernias: It occurs near the bellybutton or navel due to natural weakness from the blood vessels of the umbilical cord. Mostly it occurs before the age of one and resolves by the age of 3 or 4 years. But if it occurs in an adult, then it does not resolves itself and need medical intervention. Excessive coughing, obesity and pregnancy are some of the reasons behind the occurrence of Umbilical Hernias.
  • Epigastric Hernias: This type of hernias are relitively uncommon and occur due to gaps and weakness in muscle tendons in the abdominal wall. Epigastric Hernias occur more in men.
  • Hiatal Hernias: It occurs due to weakness in diaphragm, which is a group of muscle separating chest cavity from abdominal cavity. Its surgery is more complicated than other types of hernias.
Hernias can also be classified in two more ways.
  • Reducible and Nonreducible Hernias: Reducible hernias are those which flattens when the person attains a certain position. Such hernias are not immediate danger to a person's health. While if the hernia doesn't flatten itself and has taken a prominent shape, then it called nonreducuble hernia. Nonreducible hernia often pains a lot and need immediate medical attention.
  • Acquired and Congenital Hernias: Congenital hernia are present from child birth due to weakness of some tissues while Acquired Hernias are caused by our life-style such as smoking, weight lifting, constipation, pregnancy etc.

Treatment of Hernia

Mostly Doctors try to make your hernia condition better through lifestyle changes.

Lifestyle changes treatment of Hernia

  • Eat lesser food at a time / Avoid heavy meals.
  • Don't lie down just after having meal.
  • Reduce Weight if your are overweight or keep your body weight in a healthy range.
  • In case of Hiatal Hernias, stop consuming spicy foods, tomatoes and all such food items that can cause acid reflux or heartburn.
  • Giving up cigarettes can also help in reducing the symptoms of Hernia. 

Treatment of Hernia through medication

Medication for Hernia treatment should be taken only on medical prescription. Some over the counter drugs like antacids, H-2 receptor blockers, and proton pump inhibitors can help in certain conditions.

Surgery to Treat Hernia

Sometimes surgery is suggested to treat hernia if it can't be treated with lifestyle changes. If your hernia is growing larger and causing pain then surgery is the only option to treat it. During surgery the hole in abdominal cavity is sewed with the help of some surgical mesh as a patch to repair the hole. Laparoscopic surgery is also done in some cases which require very short incision and takes lesser time to recover. Normal Surgery of Hernia takes upto 6 weeks to recover while laparoscopic surgery much lesser time to recover. In some cases of Hernia, such as Inguinal Hernia , lapraroscopic surgery is not suggested.

How to prevent Hernia

As somebody said prevention is better than cure, same is with hernia. A healthy lifestyle can help you in preventing the occurrence of hernia. However no prevention is 100% safety, as genetic reasons can't be avoided. But still we suggest following prevention to avoid hernia.
  • Quit Smoking
  • Treat constipation without any delay.
  • Don't be obese. Obesity is a risk factor for Hernia, and being slim can prevent it.
  • Never start Heavy Weight Lifting suddenly. Increase the weight gradually.
  • Don't take any bulge in abdominal area as normal. Proper treatment on time can save you from surgery.

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