A herniation is a protrusion of tissue through a weakness in the abdominal wall. It can be either external or internal.
The most common types of hernia are inguinal
, incisional, and umbilical.
- An inguinal hernia is the protrusion of the intestine or bladder through the abdominal wall in the groin. Most hernias are inguinal, and most occur in men because of a natural weakness in this area.
- An incisional hernia develops at the site of an operation where the muscles have not healed properly.
- An umbilical hernia is situated near the navel. Common in newborns, it also afflicts obese women or those who have had many children.
Causes and Development
People can be born with weaknesses that make them prone to hernias. Anything that causes muscle strain, weakens tissue, or increases abdominal
pressures can then induce herniation. Examples include obesity, lifting heavy objects, constipation
, smoking, poor nutrition or persistent coughing. Ultimately, all hernias are caused by a combination of muscle weakness and strain: a weak spot in the muscle tears under the pressure of strain, and an internal organ or tissue then pushes through the tear. Sometimes under heavy pressure, the tearing pain of a hernia may be felt.
Signs and Symptoms
Sometimes you will be able to feel it yourself on the side of the abdomen
or groin. You may feel pain when you lift heavy objects, cough, strain during urination or bowel movements, or during prolonged standing or sitting. The pain may be sharp and immediate or a dull ache that gets worse towards the end of the day. Severe, continuous pain, redness and tenderness are signs that the hernia may be entrapped or strangulated. These symptoms are cause for concern and immediate contact of your physician or surgeon is recommended.
Diagnosis and Tests
A doctor's physical examination is often enough to diagnose a hernia.
Treatment and Prevention
The weakened area may recover by itself or preventative measures may keep the problem from recurring.
- Avoid excessive lifting when possible
- Empty your lungs before heavy lifting, rather than filling them
- Gentle exercise on a regular basis tones and strengthens stomach muscles
- Avoid becoming overweight
- Avoid straining on the toilet.