What is a Hernia?
The symptoms depend on the type of hernia, its causes and the severity.
A hernia is a sac formed out of the lining of an organ that comes through the hole or weak area in the wall of a muscle, tissue, or membrane that normally holds an organ in place. It is a bulge or protrusion of an organ or fatty tissue through a weakened area in the muscle or connective tissue in which the organ is enclosed.
A hernia can develop in any part of the body. However, the muscles of the abdominal wall are most commonly affected.
Who is Affected by Hernia?
Hernia can occur in babies and in adults. Hernia in babies usually heals by itself within four years, but for others, hernia repair surgery or herniorrhaphy is the standard treatment.
What are the Symptoms of Hernia?
The main symptom is the appearance of a lump (a swollen area) in the region involved. The lump may be painless and only be felt on exertion such as lifting heavy objects, coughing, etc. Some hernias can cause pain during exertion.
The lump is not felt when the person is lying down; it becomes prominent on standing and particularly on straining.
Some hernias can get strangulated, interrupting blood supply to the herniated tissue.
A hernia can protrude from a weak area or opening in the wall of the abdominal cavity. It is seen as a bulge over the skin, and often characterized with
Hernias are more common in certain parts of the body. Hernias occur most commonly between the area of your rib cage and groin, such as the
- upper thigh area
- belly button area
They can also occur in any place where you have had an incision from a previous surgery.
A hernia can usually be diagnosed by physical examination (for example: for inguinal hernia, a lump can be seen or felt in the groin).
Ultrasound and X-rays are other tests that your doctor can order to diagnose a hernia.
Types of Hernia
There are different types of hernias based on their location. The most common types are listed below.
Inguinal hernia appears as a bulge in the groin or scrotum, occurring more commonly in men than women. Part of the intestine protrudes through the lower abdominal muscle into the groin.
Femoral hernia appears as a bulge in the upper thigh, as a loop of intestine, or another part of the abdominal contents, that has been forced out of the abdomen through a channel called the "femoral canal" (a tube-shaped passage at the top of the front of the thigh).
This type of hernia tends to occur in older people and is more common in women than in men.
Fat tissue or part of the intestine protrudes through the abdominal muscle into the femoral artery present in the upper part of the thigh.
Incisional hernia may be caused by a scar from an abdominal surgery. Tissue protrudes through a previous surgical wound, which becomes structurally weak.
Umbilical hernia is a small bulge around the umbilicus (belly button). An umbilical hernia in an infant is caused by the incomplete closure of the muscles around the umbilicus.
Fat tissue or part of the intestine protrudes through the abdominal muscle near the belly button.
Part of the upper stomach protrudes through an opening in the diaphragm into the chest region.
A hernia may need to be treated surgically as it may
- have a risk of causing pain
- even becoming strangulated