Hernia – All you need to know
A hernia can be seen as a localised bulge in the abdominal or groin region. It usually is harmless and painless, however, some may present with localised symptoms and hence require treatment.
A muscular wall keeps the abdominal organs in place. Weakness in the wall may lead to bulging of organs causing a hernia. The herniated mass protrudes outside the abdomen which can be pushed into the abdominal cavity with the help of minor pressure or it may disappear by itself when the patient lies down, however any activity like, sneezing, coughing, lifting weight or anything that increases intra abdominal pressure can make it reappear.
There are different types of hernia which affect different age groups and may develop along with different type of health conditions. There’s no exact cause for most of the types of hernia, except incisional hernia. The chances of occurrence of hernia increases with age as muscles tend to lose their tone and become more lax. Males are more likely to develop hernia as compared to females. Children may have hernia which can either be present right from birth (congenital) or may develop due to weak abdominal muscles. Femoral hernia is more commonly found where the bulge is seen right below the groin.
Types of hernia
Inguinal hernia is more common among males with the protrusion seen in the groin which might extend up to the scrotum. It is more common among aged males, chronic smokers, people with previous history of inguinal hernia, positive family history of hernia, people involved in lifting excessive heavy weight, and those who are overweight.
Another form of hernia called as hiatus hernia, develops when the stomach protrudes into the chest cavity through an opening in the diaphragm.
An umbilical hernia shows up more commonly in children. Babies born prematurely or those having excessively low birth weight are likely to develop umbilical hernia. Adult females who have undergone multiple pregnancies and are obese are also at a higher risk of suffering from umbilical hernia.
Some patients who have undergone an abdominal surgery in the past, might experience organs or tissues protruding through the site of incision, this is called as incisional hernia.
Medical conditions or activities that have a potential to increase intra-abdominal pressure over a prolonged period of time can increase predisposition to hernia. Persistent cough, habitual constipation, enlarged prostate, cystic fibrosis, lifting heavy weight, obesity, peritoneal dialysis, excessive straining for urination or stool can lead to hernia in the long term.
Some patients might feel a dragging sensation, some amount of discomfort, and swelling on straining, after prolonged standing, lifting heavyweight. The symptoms might become bothersome to some patients and they might want to see a doctor to get a permanent relief from them.
An immediate medical intervention must be sought in case of an inguinal hernia which shows sudden signs of enlargement, pain, nausea, vomiting and excessive pain. For a non symptomatic one, wait and watch can be the best approach.
The type of surgery required usually depends upon the location and the size of herniated mass. The two usually performed procedures are an open surgery or a laparoscopic surgery.
Some lifestyle changes may be advised in few types of hernia, for example, in hiatus hernia, the doctor will advise you not to lie down right after meals, avoid spicy food and alcohol.