Hernia

  • July 21, 2020

Hernia Facts

Mr. Dubey, a retired bank official, had of late been complaining of a pain in his groin area, particularly when he coughed on bent to lift something. Assuming it was a boil, or a muscle pull, his wife decided to take a look. She was alarmed when she saw a bulge in her husband’s groin. She immediately called her daughter and they took him to a doctor, who suspected a Hernia. Investigations confirmed his diagnosis. The doctor explained to the family that the only way to treat hernia is through surgery. And since Mr Dubey was in so much pain, immediate surgery was advisable.

What is Hernia?

A hernia is said to occur when an internal organ or body part pushes through the wall of muscle or tissue. Thus, we can also say that hernia is a “defect” or weakness in the abdominal wall and occurs mainly within the abdominal cavity, between the chest and the hips.

Common forms of Hernia are:

Inguinal hernia: Inguinal canal helps the spermatic cord and blood vessels to pass through to the testicles in men. In women, this canal contains ligament that gives support to the womb. In this type of hernia, fatty tissue or part of the intestine protrudes into the groin at the top of the inner thigh. This hernia affects men more often than women.

Femoral hernia: Tissues or parts of intestine pushes through into the groin at the top of the inner thigh. They are less common than inguinal hernias and mainly affect older women.

Umbilical hernia: Here the fatty tissue or part of the intestine pushes through the abdomen near the navel.

Hiatal (hiatus) hernia: Formed when a part of the stomach pushes up into the chest cavity through an opening in the diaphragm.

Other types of hernias include:

Incisional hernia: When tissues push through the site of an abdominal scar from an abdominal or pelvic operation such hernias are formed.

Epigastric hernia: In this type the fatty tissue protrudes through the abdominal area between the navel and lower part of the sternum

Spigelian hernia: When the intestine pushes through the abdomen at the side of the abdominal muscle, below the navel such hernias are formed

Diaphragmatic hernia: Formed when the organs in the abdomen move into the chest through an opening in the diaphragm.

The Causes

A hernia develops due to a combination of abdominal wall muscle weakness and a persistent pressure on this weakness, over a period of time. Some of the causes are:

  • A congenital defect
  • Muscles which weaken due to age
  • Poor nutrition
  • Constipation
  • Straining during urination
  • Constant coughing or sneezing
  • An abdominal injury or surgery
  • Improper lifting of heavy weights
  • Being overweight/obese
  • Ascites or fluid buildup in the abdominal cavity
  • Peritoneal dialysis
  • Smoking

Symptoms of Hernia

A hernia in the abdomen or groin produces a noticeable lump or bulge that can get pushed back in, and disappear when lying down. Coughing, straining during a bowel movement or heavy physical activity may make the lump reappear.

More symptoms of a hernia include:

  • Swelling in the groin
  • Pain in the groin where the bulge is
  • Pain while lifting something heavy
  • Increase in the size of the bulge over time
  • A dull pain
  • A feeling of being full or having signs of bowel obstruction

In the case of hiatal hernias there are no bulges but there may be symptoms like heartburn, indigestion, difficulty swallowing, frequent regurgitation (bringing food back up) and chest pain.

Treatment

Hernias don’t get better on their own, surgery is often the only option. However, your doctor may refer you to a surgeon only if he thinks it is absolutely necessary and plan the surgery accordingly.

Types of hernia surgery:

Open surgery, in which a cut is made into the body at the location of the hernia and a type of mesh is implanted there to provide extra support.

Laparoscopic surgery, minimally access surgery is where tiny incisions are made to allow for the insertion of surgical tools to complete the procedure. It helps to heal faster and allows people to get back to daily life faster

Sometimes a hernia may even lead to an emergency when a part of the intestine is trapped in such a way that it cuts off the blood supply. It is advisable to consult a doctor/general surgeon and follow the necessary advice.

Prevention

One can’t prevent a congenital defect, but we can reduce strain on our abdominal muscles and tissues. Follow these steps to stay healthy:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Talk to a doctor about the best exercise and diet plan
  • Emphasize on high-fibre foods. Consume more fruits, vegetables and whole grains that contain fibre to prevent constipation and straining
  • Lift heavy objects carefully, if possible avoid lifting. If you must lift heavy objects, then always bend from your knees not your waist
  • Stop smoking Smoking causes chronic cough that can lead to or aggravate an inguinal hernia

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