Hernia - Overview, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

A hernia develops when an internal organ or other bodily component protrudes through the muscle or tissue wall that typically holds it in place. The majority of hernias develop in the abdominal cavity, between the chest and hips.

The following are the most frequent types of hernias

Inguinal herniaThe inguinal canal in males serves as a conduit for the spermatic cord and blood vessels going to the testicles. The inguinal canal in women contains the circular ligament that supports the womb. An inguinal hernia occurs when fatty tissue or a section of the intestine protrudes into the groin near the top of the inner thigh. This is the most common form of hernia, and males are more likely than women to get it.

Femoral hernia Femoral hernia is a condition in which fatty tissue or a portion of the intestine protrudes into the groin near the top of the inner thigh. Femoral hernias are significantly less frequent than inguinal hernias, and they mostly occur in elderly women.

Umbilical hernia Umbilical hernia is a condition in which fatty tissue or a portion of the intestine protrudes through the abdomen around the navel (belly button).

Hiatal (hiatus) hernia A portion of the stomach pushes up into the chest cavity through a diaphragmatic defect (the horizontal sheet of muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen).



Prevalence of hernias

  • Inguinal or femoral hernias account for 75 to 80 percent of all hernias that occur.
  • Only 2% are incisional or ventral.
  • 3 to 10% are umbilical, affecting 10 to 20% of infants; most close by themselves by the age of 5 years.
  • Other kinds account for 1 to 3% of the total.

Symptoms and Causes

Inguinal and femoral hernias are caused by weakened muscles that may have existed from birth or are caused by age and repetitive stresses on the abdomen and groin regions. Sudden heavy weight lifting, pregnancy, regularly coughing, or straining on the toilet due to constipation can all lead to a hernia. Adults can develop an umbilical hernia by straining the abdomen region, being overweight, having a persistent heavy cough, or giving birth.

The etiology of Hiatal hernias is unknown, however age-related diaphragm weakness or abdominal pressure may play a role.

When lying down, a hernia in the belly or groin can cause a visible lump or protrusion that can be pushed back in or vanish. Laughing, weeping, coughing, straining during a bowel movement, or physical activity may cause the lump to resurface after it has been pushed in. Swelling or a protrusion in the groin or scrotum (the pouch that contains the testicles) are some signs of a hernia.

Some of the other/more severe symptoms include

  • Pain at the region of the bulge becoming more severe.
  • Lifting causing discomfort.
  • The size of the bulge growing with time.
  • A dull ache.
  • A feeling of being full or indications of bowel blockage

Diagnosis

Physical examination generally reveals or feels a protrusion in the region where a hernia has formed. The doctor touches the region around the testicles and groin while the patient coughs as part of a standard physical exam for inguinal hernias in men. Soft-tissue imaging, such as a CT scan, can be used to properly diagnose the disease in some situations.

Management

If you have a hernia, therapy will begin with your primary care physician. If surgery to correct the hernia is required, you will be sent to a general surgeon. In fact, ventral hernia repairs are one of the most common surgeries performed by general surgeons If you suspect you have a hernia, don't put off seeking treatment. An untreated hernia can enlarge and become more uncomfortable, resulting in problems and perhaps emergency surgery. Early repair is more successful, safer, and results in better recovery and outcome.

Treatment

Hernias never heal on their own, and surgery may be the only option to fix them. However, your doctor will advise you on the best treatment for your hernia and may send you to a surgeon. If the surgeon believes it is necessary to repair your hernia, he or she will adapt the method of surgery to your specific needs.

In the case of a kid with an inguinal hernia, surgery may be suggested if the hernia is big or has not healed by the age of 4 to 5 years. By this age, a kid should be able to prevent surgical problems.

When an adult develops an inguinal hernia, surgery is typically advised because the disease is unlikely to heal on its own and the risk of complications is high. Hernia surgery can be performed in one of three ways:

  • Open surgery, in which an incision is made into the body at the hernia's site. The projecting tissue is sewn back together, and the weakening muscular wall is reattached. To offer additional support, a kind of mesh is sometimes placed in the region.
  • The same kind of fixes is performed during laparoscopic surgery. Instead of a cut to the exterior of the abdomen or groin, small incisions are created to allow surgical equipment to be inserted to finish the surgery.
  • Robotic hernia repair, like laparoscopic surgery, is conducted through tiny incisions and uses a laparoscope. The surgeon performs robotic surgery while seated at a console in the operating room, where he or she controls the surgical tools. While robotic surgery can be used to repair minor hernias or weak spots, it can also be utilized to reconstruct the abdominal wall.

What may be done to avoid a hernia?

  • Eat a balanced diet and exercise to maintain your desired body weight.
  • Consume a sufficient amount of fiber-rich diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to avoid constipation.
  • When lifting weights or large items, use proper form. Avoid lifting anything that is too heavy for you. Consult a doctor if you are suffering from chronic coughing or sneezing.
  • Don't smoke since it can cause coughing, which can lead to a hernia