A hernia is a health condition where tissue or an organ breaks through a weakened opening in the muscle. Most aren’t life-threatening but need immediate medical interventions to cure the symptoms.
A hernia is common in abdominal regions but may occur near the groin, thighs, or navel. Some common types are:
- Inguinal hernia primarily affects men.
- Femoral hernias are common among women.
- A ventral hernia is prevalent in the midline region of the abdomen.
- An incisional hernia occurs around a surgical scar.
- An umbilical hernia is common in babies and occurs in association with the belly button.
The primary cause is excessive pressure on the intestines or some organs. Due to this pressure, areas with weak tissues or muscles lead to a hernia. To prevent the condition to deteriorate, it’s important to diagnose the hernia symptoms at the early stages.
What Causes Hernia?
Each type of hernia has a different reason. Usually starting with pressure around the intestines or organs, a hernia develops when the pressure is around a weakened tissue or muscles.
Some people are born with weak tissues or muscles and are more vulnerable to this condition. However, with age and weakened muscles, people may get this condition over time.
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Symptoms of Hernia
Various developments in our body indicate the development of a hernia. Some common symptoms have been briefed below. The inguinal, umbilical, femoral, or incisional hernia has the following symptoms.
1. External Hernia
Most hernias are external and the location of each may vary. Not all of them show the same symptoms but the common ones include:
- Visible lump/bulge in the abdomen/groin
- The bulge that disappears when you lie down or are pushed back
- Increased size of the bulge with time
- Pain, bulge, swelling in scrotum or groin in men
- Fullness or experience bowel obstruction
- Swelling under the skin of the groin or abdomen that can be tender and may disappear when the person lies down
- Heaviness in the abdomen area accompanied by blood in the stool or constipation
- Discomfort in the groin or abdomen when bending down or lifting heavy materials
- Aching or burning sensation at the bulge
- Pressure or weakness in the groin
2. Symptoms of Internal Hernia
Contrary to an external hernia, an internal hernia doesn’t create a bulge on your body. Hiatal hernia is a common type where a section of the stomach pushes through the diaphragm (sheet of muscle separating the abdomen from the chest). Usually, there are limited symptoms that indicate an internal hernia. However, hiatal hernia in most cases causes digestive juices inside the stomach to move up into the esophagus (acid reflux)
- Burning sensation in the Upper chest (Heartburn)
- Sour, bitter, or acidic taste in the back of the throat
- Bloated stomach
- Frequent burps
- Discomfort or pain in the esophagus or stomach
- Difficulty to swallow
- Shooting pain
- Swelling and pain around testicles
In the case of a hiatal hernia, symptoms might include upper abdominal pain or heartburn.
Symptoms of Strangulated Hernia
Usually, it’s possible to push a hernia inside. But not in all cases. Sometimes it gets stuck in the abdomen and if the trapped section gets cut off or strangulated from the blood flow, it results in a serious condition. The severity could be life-threatening too. Consult a doctor immediately if you experience any symptoms of a strangulated hernia.
The common symptoms may include:
- Vomiting and Nausea
- Sudden pain that gets worse in a quick time
- Hernia bulge turning purple, dark, or red
- Difficulty to pass gas or poop
- Constant pain in the affected area
- The affected area is swollen
- Burning sensation
- Pressure build-up
- Bulging while inspecting an affected area
Common Signs & Symptoms in Children
Common in babies and kids, hernia might happen around the abdominal wall if it’s weak at birth. If a child is having this condition, a bulge is noticed around the belly button and groin area.
A child may refuse to eat and cry a lot. While crying, coughing, or straining to poop, a hernia can bulge. One might also notice tenderness when touching the belly.
Diagnosis & Prevention of Hernia Symptoms
A hernia is detected through physical examination and some cases require prescribed tests to assess the condition and its cause. An ultrasound test that uses sound waves for scanning the body is one common test that is used to detect hernia.
Barium X-ray is another method of taking images of the digestive system and intestines. Some patients may also be prescribed to undergo an endoscopy examination of their esophagus and stomach.
It is possible to prevent hernia but if it’s due to genetics it’s unavoidable. Congenital diaphragmatic hernia is a birth defect and some children might be born with weak muscles making it easy for getting a hernia.
When To Consult A Doctor?
One needs to consult a doctor if one experiences any of the signs and symptoms discussed above. However, if you see additional developments such as the ones mentioned below, your hernia requires a deeper examination and treatment.
- Unable to get the hernia to go back in or soften. It is an urgent medical condition that needs immediate treatment as it is a case of incarcerated hernia and might lead to organ strangulation.
- Experience pain and noticeable bulge around the groin on any side of the pubic bone
- If one is aware he/she has hernia and experiences symptoms of a strangulated hernia. Immediate consultation with a specialist is needed.
A hernia isn’t a case to worry about if you diagnose it in the early stages. Medical treatments including advanced surgery have made it easy to treat this condition.
However, patients mustn’t ignore any of the symptoms if they observe them. Consulting a doctor and undergoing the required tests ensure that the condition doesn’t deteriorate further.
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