A hernia occurs when there is a weakness or hole in the muscular wall that usually keeps abdominal organs in place - the peritoneum. This defect allows organs and tissues to push through, or herniate, producing a bulge.
There is usually no obvious reason for a hernia, except for an incisional hernia being a complication of abdominal surgery. Risk of hernia increases with age and is more common in men than women.
A hernia can be congenital - present at birth - or develop in children with a weakness in their abdominal wall.
Certain activities and medical problems raise pressure on the abdominal wall and can lead to a hernia, including.
• Straining on the toilet, for example because of long-term constipation.
• Long-term cough
• Cystic fibrosis
• Enlarged prostate
• Straining to urinate
• Being overweight or obese
• Abdominal fluid
• Lifting heavy items
• Peritoneal dialysis
• Poor nutrition
• Physical exertion
Many hernias present no problem, showing a painless swelling that gives no symptoms.
Hernias may bring discomfort and pain, which may be worse when standing, straining, or lifting heavy items. Most people eventually see a doctor with a sore or growing swelling.
Hernias can cause an emergency need for surgery, such as when part of the gut becomes obstructed or strangulated by an inguinal hernia.
Immediate medical attention should be sought if an inguinal hernia produces acute abdominal complaints such as:
The swelling in these cases is typically firm and tender and cannot usually be reduced back up into the abdomen. Hiatal hernia can produce symptoms of acid reflux - producing heartburn when stomach acid gets into the esophagus.
As an expert Hernia Surgeon, I advise to get the hernia surgery done before it gets worse, because it will never get cured by medications or belts. It is a physical defect in your abdominal wall, which needs to be closed by surgery and application of mesh.
The diagnosis of a hernia is usually simple - the doctor will often be able to see it and palpate for it.
You may be asked to bend or move while the doctor is feeling for the hernia, or to cough, since this can enlarge the bulge.
The doctor may arrange an imaging test for the hernia, an ultrasound scan to visualize the problem. A CT scan is also a testing option.
It uses a tiny camera and miniaturized surgical equipment to repair the hernia using only a few small incisions. Recovery is quick and postoperative discomfort is less.
Not all hernias are suitable for laparoscopy, it is best left to your doctor to decide which modality suits you better. Incision and scar is usually not an issue but recovery takes little more time.