Hernias are a common medical concern among adults. They do not always have an obvious physical cause. Hernias become more of a health risk factor with age, but anyone can experience the discomfort of these medical complications.
What is a Hernia?
Hernias occur suddenly or over time, where there is a weakness or opening in the abdominal muscular wall. This area is called the peritoneum, and its main purpose is to keep abdominal organs in place. When a hole or weakness exists in the abdominal wall muscles, organs and tissues can push forward and create an uncomfortable bulge.
Hernias are simple for doctors to diagnose, but there are a few different types.
What Are The Different Types of Hernias?
Hernias sites are typically found across the groin, stomach, belly button or on an abdominal surgical scar. They are identified through the following categories:
- Inguinal hernia: These are the most commonly diagnosed hernias, and they are a result of the intestines pushing through the muscle abdominal wall. The intestines usually push through the inguinal canal found within the groin.
- Hiatal hernia: These hernias are a result of part of your stomach pushing up through your diaphragm. These occur frequently in adults over 50 years old and can have impacts on your bowel movement.
- Umbilical hernia: A hernia taking place when a baby is under six months old. These are noticeable near the lower stomach, but they happen when the intestines stick out through the abdomen wall. This hernia corrects itself as the child grows older and muscles strengthen.
- Incisional hernia: This hernia complication happens after abdominal surgery. The intestines push past weak muscles, scarring or tissue.
How Do You Know if You Have a Hernia?
You can usually tell if you have a hernia if a bulge is coming from your abdominal area. These bulges are easier to find when you are standing or bending as opposed to lying down flat. Inspecting your body for hernias is done by feeling your abdominal muscles for any lumps that don’t match the opposite side.
There are a few other hernia symptoms. Other common symptoms of a hernia include:
- Pain or aches in the abdomen
- Straining when using the restroom
Signs of Hernia for Women
While women are less likely to experience hernias than men, they are still at risk. If a hernia occurs in a woman, it is often smaller and deeper and doesn’t have the typical bulge. In most cases, these hernias cause chronic, deep pain in the pelvis accompanied by an occasional stabbing feeling that seems to occur suddenly and continues to linger.
Exercising, coughing, laughing or straining in any way can also cause hernia pain to increase. While it may be hard to find the exact words to describe signs of a hernia in a woman, some common phrases include:
Most women experience inguinal hernia pain near their groin and report more severe symptoms during their period. Their hernia can also worsen through activities that put additional pressure on the pelvic floor, like:
- Entering and exiting a car
- Sitting and standing for a prolonged period
Signs of Hernia for Men
Hernias in men are often closer to the surface and have apparent swelling. However, the exact signs will largely depend on the type of hernia and where it is in the body. For incisional, umbilical, femoral and inguinal hernias, some symptoms include:
- Swelling beneath the abdomen and groin that disappears when you lie down
- A heavy feeling in the stomach with accompanying constipation or bloody stool
- Discomfort in the abdomen whenever you lift something or bend over
- A burning sensation in the swollen areas
- Groin weakness or pressure
- Shooting pains
For a hiatal hernia, a man may experience symptoms like heartburn or pain in the upper abdominal area. The signs and symptoms of a hernia may also differ if it is a strangulated hernia and can include the following:
- Sudden pain that quickly increases
- A swollen bulge that becomes red or purple
- Extreme constipation
When Should I Worry About Hernia Pain?
The best tip with hernias is to watch them regularly. If pain levels become excruciating and prevent you from living a normal life, surgery might be your best option. Depending on the location and type of hernia, you might need open or Laparoscopic repair surgery.
Open surgery involves sealing off the hernia using mesh or bone while Laparoscopic repair requires smaller incisions for a shorter recovery period. Both methods repair a hernia in the same way, but Laparoscopic repair uses a small camera to guide instruments and lighting through the abdomen. Talk to your doctor to discuss these treatment options in more detail.
Are You at Risk?
It’s always proactive to monitor your body and health. Your risk factors of a hernia increase if you have a family history of hernias, are overweight, experience long-term constipation or smoke. If you are concerned about hernias or think you might have one, Hamilton Health Center is here to help.
By making an appointment with Hamilton Health Center, we can guide you on the best path toward overall well-being. Welcome to your new home for health. Call Hamilton Health Center today.