What is a Hernia?
Our organs are held in place by muscles and other tissues. When an organ pushes through this casing, or protective barrier, a hernia arises. Most hernias occur in the abdomen, either in the belly or the groin, however they sometimes show up in upper thigh or diaphragm.
What are the common types of Hernias?
Hernias are given different names, depending on their location and cause. The most common types of hernias are:
- Inguinal hernia.
This is the most common type, and occurs in the groin.
- Umbilical hernia.
This occurs when the abdominal contents push through the umbilicus (belly button), or right next to it.
- Femoral hernia.
This is sometimes confused with an inguinal hernia. It arises in the upper thigh, adjacent to the groin.
- Incisional hernia.
This occurs in the region of previous abdominal surgery.
- Epigastric hernia.
This appears between the sternum and umbilicus.
- Hiatus hernia.
This occurs when the stomach pushes through a defect or weakness in the diaphragm (which separates the abdomen from the chest).
What symptoms do Hernias cause?
Most hernias are not medical emergencies, but occasionally they can be.
Many hernias initially present as minor, painless bulges, and do not need immediate treatment if they are not increasing in size.
The main symptom of a hernia is a soft bulge somewhere around the abdomen. A bump in the groin or scrotum, or around the pubic bone, are common signs of an inguinal hernia. The lump sometimes goes away when pushed in or when the individual lies down. If it doesn’t (known as an irreducible hernia), the case may be more serious and it may require surgery sooner rather than later.
Some people experience pain or discomfort around the hernia, particularly when coughing, bending or lifting. Persistent or severe pain may be more serious, and may indicate strangulation, which requires urgent surgery.
When the intestines get trapped inside a hernia, this is known as strangulation. Loss of blood supply to the area in a strangulated hernia can be life-threatening. Symptoms and signs of strangulation include nausea, vomiting, and a sudden onset of pain. Avoidance of strangulation is a common reason why hernia surgery is frequently recommended.