What is Hernia

An abnormality where an internal organ or tissue of the body protrudes from the cavity in which it is normally found, this create a bulge which you can see and feel. The bulge is known as a hernia.

One of the most common reasons for operation in Australia is hernia. Studies reveal that around 40,000 Australians have hernia surgery done each year.


Different types of Hernia:

One of the most common types of hernia is Inguinal hernia which is more common in males, whereas femoral and umbilical hernias are more likely to occur in females

Inguinal hernia

This occurs in a part of the abdominal wall known as the inguinal canal. Inguinal hernia leaves a natural defect called the internal inguinal ring that may develop into a hernia if it isn’t sealed properly, resulting in the contents of the abdomen, such as intestine, to protrude through the opening, creating pain and/or a bulge.

Femoral hernia

Femoral hernia is much more common in women, but may also occur in men. This occurs when fatty tissues or part of the bowel pushes through into the groin at the top of the inner thigh.

Incisional hernia

Incisional hernia is also known as ventral hernia which appears in the abdomen at the site of a previous surgery. It is known as a ventral or incisional hernia.

Umbilical hernia 

The hernia which occurs near the bellybutton is known as an umbilical hernia. Most infants are vulnerable to this hernia. It may occur in infants at or just after birth when they may be around three or four years of age. Umbilical hernias have 11% chances re-occurrence.

Epigastric hernia

Epigastric hernia which occurs mostly in the upper abdominal wall arises due to a weakness, gap, or opening in the muscles of the upper abdominal wall, on a line between the breastbone and the navel. Men are more vulnerable to this hernia than women.

Spigelian hernia

Spigelian hernia is known by multiple names. It usually develops through a slit-like defect in the anterior abdominal wall adjacent to the semilunar line. Most of spigelian hernias occur in the lower abdomen where the posterior sheath is deficient.

Causes of a Hernia

Many causes might be attributed to the occurrence of hernia. Some might be due to a physical constitution, the others due to lifestyles and habits. Here are some of the causes of hernia:

  • Chronic constipation and pushing hard (straining) to have a bowel movement
  • Chronic Cough
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Enlarged prostate, straining to urinate
  • Overweight
  • Undescended testicles
  • Peritoneal dialysis
  • Fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
  • Lifestyle
  • Heavy lifting
  • Poor nutrition
  • Smoking
  • Overexertion

Who are the possible candidates for Hernia?

People who are most vulnerable to hernias are adults who usually put a lot of strain which raises the pressure in the tummy or abdomen into causing a weakness or tear in the abdominal wall.

  • A person with the habit of smoking
  • A person who is overweight
  • A pregnant lady carrying more than 1 fetus or lady with multiple pregnancies without the proper gap.
  • A person who have to do frequent lifting, carrying or pushing heavy loads.
  • A person who frequently strain on the toilet.

Symptoms of Hernia?

If you have hernia, you can easily find it out with these symptoms:

  • Swelling or bulge in the groin or scrotum.
  • Increased pain at the site of the bulge.
  • Pain while lifting.
  • Increase in the bulge size over time.
  • A dull aching sensation.
  • A sense of feeling full or signs of bowel obstruction.

But it also should that, if you experience any of this symptoms doesn’t confirm that you have hernia. It could be symptoms of other diseases as well. However, you can confirm it with the help of a colorectal surgeon.

Tests and Exams for Hernias

With a physical examination doctor usually see or feel a hernia. The doctor may ask you to cough, bend, push, or lift and will do your full check-up. The hernia may not be easily seen in infants and children, except when the child is crying or coughing.

Ultrasound or CT scan may be done to find hernia.Doctors may suggest the following to mitigate the effects of hernia:

  • Walk some time after meals.
  • Avoiding spicy foods, acidic foods, alcohol, and tobacco.
  • Eating small, frequent, bland meals.
  • Eating a high-fiber diet.

Treatment and Cure

The only treatment which removes a hernia permanently is a surgery. It is because surgery repairs the weakened abdominal wall tissue and closes any hole. Most hernias are closed with stitches and sometimes with mesh patches to plug the hole.

Outcome of treatment of a Hernia

The outcome for most hernias is usually good with treatment. Recurrence of a hernia is usually very rare for all the types of hernia except incisional hernia.

Prevention and Precaution

A few changes in your lifestyle and habits can reduce the chances of getting hernia.

  • Understand that hernias can be hereditary. If anyone in your family had it previously, then you have a higher chance of getting it. So avoid frequent lifting of heavy objects, pushing heavy loads etc. This can increase the pressure in your abdomen.
  • Don’t over eat. Follow a healthy diet to maintain a reasonable weight.
  • Stop the habit of smoking. Smoking can cause persistent coughing.
  • Add fiber-rich food items like beans, dry fruits, potatoes, cereals, broccoli to your diet and drink a lot of water to avoid constipation.
  • Follow a good routine of exercise programs to maintain abdominal muscle tone.