A hernia is a bulge formed through the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum). The bulging organ passes through a hole or a weakened area in the strong layer of the abdominal wall. Anytime an internal body part pushes into a different internal location where it does not belong, it's referred to as a hernia.
Types of Hernias
The type of hernia you have depends on its location:
- Femoral hernia: a protrusion in the upper part of the thigh, just below the groin. This type of hernia is more common in women than in men.
- Hiatal Hernia: occurs when a portion of the upper part of the stomach enters the chest.
- Surgical hernia or eventration: can occur through a scar if you have had abdominal surgery in the past.
- Umbilical hernia: is a protrusion around the navel. It happens when the muscle around the navel does not close completely.
- Inguinal hernia: a protrusion on either side of the pubic bone. There occur more often and the hernia can protrude down into the scrotum.
Cause of Hernias
There is not always a clear cause for a hernia. Sometimes, a hernia can occur by lifting heavy objects, by exerting effort when using the bathroom or any activity that could increase the pressure inside the abdomen. A hernia occurs when there is a weakness in the abdominal wall. Additionally, obesity, poor nutrition, and smoking could weaken the muscles in the abdomen making a hernia more likely to occur.
Babies and children can develop hernias as well. There are types of hernias can be present at birth, but the lump may not be noticeable until later in life. Some people have a family history of hernias. Approximately 5 out of every 100 children have inguinal hernias, they are typically more common in males. Some children may not have symptoms until they are adults.
Any activity or health problem that increases pressure on the tissue or the muscles of the abdomen can lead to several types of hernias, such as:
- Chronic constipation or pushing with force during a bowel movement
- Chronic cough
- Cystic fibrosis
- Enlarged prostate causing an effort upon urination
- Fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
- Lifting heavy objects
- Peritoneal dialysis
- Poor Nutrition
- Excessive effort
Hernias typically exited without symptoms. But is also not uncommon for some people to experience some discomfort or pain. The annoyance can be worse when standing, straining or lifting heavy objects. As the hernia progresses, the most common hernia symptom is a bulge that is sensitive and growing.
When a hernia enlarges, it can get stuck inside the hole and lose its blood supply, which is called strangulation. Hernia symptoms when an area of the intestine has lost blood supply include nausea and vomiting and not being able to eliminate gas or have bowel movements. When this happens, emergency surgery is needed.