A hernia is a common medical condition that causes a localized bulge in the groin or abdomen area. This occurs when an organ or a piece of abdominal fatty tissue forces its way through an opening in the walls of the muscle that encloses them.
A hernia can sometimes be asymptomatic, painless and non-lethal and they can sometimes bring discomfort, soreness and pain. The pain can occur when engaging in physical activities such as walking or running. A hernia is common at any age and chances of having a femoral hernia increases as one age.
There are different types of hernia and they include:
1. Inguinal hernia
2. Umbilical hernia
3. Epigastric hernia
4. Femoral hernia
5. Incisional hernia
6. Hiatal hernia
This type of hernia occurs in the abdomen near the groin area. When the tissue lining the inside of the abdomen protrudes the inguinal canal into the groin, it results in a bulge that is painful when the patient coughs or the spot is pressed. An inguinal hernia is the most common type of hernia seen. It occurs in women less often because their inguinal canal does not open for the migration of testicles and the spermatic cord into the scrotum as seen in men during the fetal stage.
Umbilical hernias are common and happen when a section of the human intestine protrudes through the abdominal muscles close to the navel. They are mostly seen in infants and occur in the adult stage as well.
An epigastric hernia is a lump that occurs when bodily tissue pushes through a weakened muscular wall in the midline between the breastbone and the belly button. The bulge can vary in size and can be present from birth. It is small if only the abdominal lining forces through the surrounding tissue and larger if the fatty tissue pushes through.
A femoral hernia is a bulge below the groin. It occurs when tissue pushes through a weakened abdominal wall into the space of the femoral canal. It occurs mostly in women because of their wider femoral bone structure.
An incisional hernia is mostly seen during a drawback of an abdominal surgery healing. During abdominal surgery, the abdominal muscles are cut to allow the surgeon to enter the abdominal cavity. During the repair of the abdominal muscles, the area becomes weak and vulnerable to being penetrated by abdominal organs, intestine or tissue. A bulge near the scarred abdomen is a common and visible symptom for this hernia type.
When the upper section of your midsection bulges up through your chest, then you have hiatal hernia. The upper part of your stomach bulges through the large muscle dividing your chest and abdomen. The diaphragm, a tube through which food passes and connecting to the stomach, has a small opening known as hiatus. The upper part of the stomach pushing up through the hiatus causes hiatal hernia.
Most hernias come with no symptoms. But if they do, they include:
- Bulge, discomfort and pain in your groin or abdominal area.
- Pain and discomfort in your groin and abdominal area when you cough, walk or run.
- Heartburn, difficulty in swallowing and chest pain as seen in hiatal hernia.
- Blood in stools or vomiting of blood.
- Acid reflux.
- Regurgitation of food into the mouth.
- A heavy feeling in the abdomen.
- A visible swelling below the abdomen or at the groin area that is tender and painful when pressed.
If you have a hernia, the best person to treat it is your surgeon. They carry out hernia surgery to ensure that the displaced organ or tissue is returned to its normal position. This is the only effective way to treat a hernia. However, treatment depends on the size and severity of the hernia.
Hernia repair surgery usually involves using a mesh patch to sow over the weakened region of displaced tissues. During a hernia operation, the surgeon makes an incision on the bulged site, creating an opening through which they push the protruding tissue back into their usual position. After that, the operated area is sewn shut and recovery follows. It is recommended that you avoid any strenuous activity during the recovery period to avoid complications.
A hernia cannot always be prevented from occurring. When you notice any of its symptoms, it is best to visit your doctor to carry out a diagnosis. For more enquiries, please feel free to make an appointment with our specialist.
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