Hernia: Type, Symptoms and Causes

    A hernia occurs when an organ bulge out through the walls of the muscles or tissue that holds the organ in place. For example, the intestines may burst through a weakened area in the wall of the abdomen. Most hernias occur in the abdominal region between the chest and hips, but some of them can also emerge in the upper thigh and groin areas. Many hernias aren't life-threatening, but they usually don't go away on their own. Sometimes hernias can require surgery to prevent dangerous complications.


    Types of hernias:


    The most common forms of hernia are as follows:


    1. Inguinal hernia - This is the most occurring hernia. An inguinal hernia occurs when intestine pushes through a weak spot or tear in the abdominal wall. It is more common in males. In males, the inguinal canal is a pathway for the spermatic cord and blood vessels leading to the testicles. In females, the inguinal canal comprises the round ligament that gives the womb support and holds the uterus. In an inguinal hernia, a lump of fatty tissue or a part of the intestine thrust into the groin at the top of the inner thigh.


    2. Femoral hernia - Femoral hernias are less common than inguinal hernias, and they are most likely to affect older women. In this form of hernia, fatty tissue or part of the intestine protrudes into the groin at the top of the inner thigh.


    3. Umbilical hernia - Lump of fatty tissue or part of the intestine bumped out through the abdomen near the navel area (belly button).


    4. Hiatal (hiatus) hernia - In this hernia, part of the stomach pushes up into the chest cavity through an opening in the diaphragm.


    Other types of hernias include:


    5. Incisional hernia - Tissue pokes through the site of an abdominal scar from an outlying abdominal or pelvic operation.


    6. Spigelian hernia - An abdominal hernia in which intestine pushes through the abdomen at the abdominal muscle's side, below the navel.


    7. Epigastric hernia - Fatty tissue comes out through the abdominal region between the navel and lower part of the sternum (breastbone).


    8. Diaphragmatic hernia - A kind of birth defect where there is a hole in the diaphragm. Organs in the abdomen (intestines, stomach, and liver) move into the chest through this hole.


    What causes hernia?


    Hernias are known to be caused by a combination of muscle weakness and strain. Depending on its cause, it can develop immediately or over a long period of time.


    Some common causes that can lead to muscle weakness or strain that can result in hernia include:


    • A congenital condition that takes place during a baby's development in the womb and is present from birth
    • Aging
    • Damage from a surgery or an injury
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)
    • Chronic coughing
    • Strenuous exercise
    • Lifting heavyweights
    • Pregnancy, especially having multiple pregnancies
    • Constipation
    • Being overweight or obese
    • Fluid accumulation in the abdomen, or ascites


    There are also a few more factors that can increase the risk of developing a hernia. They include:


    • A personal or family history of hernias
    • Being older
    • Chronic constipation
    • Chronic cough (probably due to the repetitive increase in abdominal pressure)
    • Cystic fibrosis
    • Smoking (leading to weakening of connective tissue)
    • Birth defects such as premature birth or being born with a low birth weight


    What are the signs and symptoms of a hernia?


    A hernia in the abdominal area or groin can give rise to a noticeable lump or bump that can be pushed back in or disappear when lying down. Laughing, crying, coughing, physical activity, or straining during a bowel movement may make the lump reappear after being pushed in. More symptoms of a hernia include:


    • Inflammation or bulge in the groin or scrotum
    • Increased pain at the location of the bulge
    • Pain while lifting
    • Increase in the bulge size over time
    • A dull aching sensation
    • A sense of feeling full or bowel obstruction signs


    In the case of hiatal hernias, individuals see no bulges on the outside of the body. Instead, symptoms may include indigestion, heartburn, difficulty swallowing, frequent regurgitation (the action of bringing swallowed food back in the mouth), and chest pain.


    Can a hernia be prevented or avoided?

    Hernia cannot always be preventable. Some are caused by genetics that are non-avoidable. For example, a congenital diaphragmatic hernia is a birth defect. Some children can also be born with weak muscles that make it easier to get a hernia later in life.




    • Eating smaller meals
    • Losing weight if anyone is obese
    • Avoiding alcohol and tobacco
    • Limiting certain foods (such as foods that are spicy or high in fiber)
    • Using proper lifting techniques to prevent strains
    • See a doctor when someone is sick to avoid developing a persistent cough



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