What Is a Hernia?
A hernia occurs when an organ or fatty tissue squeezes through a weak spot in a surrounding muscle or connective tissue called fascia. The most common types if hernia are inguinal (inner groin), incisional (resulting from an incision), femoral (outer groin), umbilical (belly button), and hiatal (upper stomach).
What Causes Hernias?
Ultimately, all hernias are caused by a combination of pressure and an opening or weakness of muscle or fascia; the pressure pushes an organ or tissue through the opening or weak spot. Sometimes the muscle weakness is present at birth; more often, it occurs later in life.
Anything that causes an increase in pressure in the abdomen can cause a hernia, including:
Lifting heavy objects without stabilizing the abdominal muscles.
Diarrhea or constipation.
Persistent coughing or sneezing.
In addition, obesity, poor nutrition, and smoking, can all weaken muscles and make hernias more likely.
Inguinal Hernia Signs and Symptoms
You could have a direct inguinal hernia if you:
Hurt when you cough, bend, or lift something heavy
Feel pressure, weakness, heaviness, or a dragging sensation in your groin
Have swelling around your testicles
Feel a burning or aching sensation at the hernia’s bulge
You may be able to gently push the bump back up into your abdomen to relieve some of the discomfort.
can push through to the inguinal canal.
Inguinal Hernia Treatment
Surgery is the only way to fix an inguinal hernia. The doctor will push the bulging tissue back inside and strengthen your abdominal wall with stitches and perhaps mesh. They might be able to do this through a small cut in your belly using a special tool, a procedure called laparoscopy. You’ll probably hurt less and heal faster than if you have traditional surgery.
An inguinal hernia can be quite painful, but it’s definitely treatable. If you think you have one, see your doctor. It won’t get better on its own.
Inguinal Hernia Complications
If you don’t treat an inguinal hernia it could lead to problems like:
Pressure and pain on the surrounding areas. Most inguinal hernias get larger over time if you don’t fix them with surgery. In men, large hernias can bulge down into the scrotum, causing swelling and pain.
Incarcerated hernia.This happens when the protrusion (and contents) of the hernia get trapped in the weak point of your abdominal wall. It can cause bowel obstruction, with severe pain, nausea, vomiting, and the inability to have bowel movements.
Strangulated hernia.When an incarcerated hernia cuts off the blood flow to part of your intestine, it’s called strangulation. This could lead to death of the affected bowel tissue. This situation is life-threatening and requires surgery immediately.