Doctor's Notes on Hernia
A hernia is a condition in which part of an organ is displaced and protrudes or bulges through the wall of the cavity containing it. For example, the usual hernia is a lump of intestinal or fatty tissue that is pushed through a defect or weakness in the abdominal wall. Hernias are described based on the location of the hernia (inguinal, femoral, umbilical, and others). Any condition that increases pressure inside the abdominal cavity may cause a hernia (for example, obesity, coughing, heavy lifting, or straining during a bowel movement).
Signs and symptoms of a hernia include a bulge in the groin or other location of the hernia. Many hernias are painless, but some may cause pain or a burning sensation. Other associated signs and symptoms can include a feeling of fullness in the affected area, and if the intestine becomes trapped in the hernia sac, nausea and vomiting.
What Is the Treatment for Hernia?
Treatment for a hernia depends on both the size of the hernia and the location or type. Small hernias in children may improve on their own. More serious hernias may require surgical repair of the defect, with the type of surgery depending on the location of the hernia.
Wearing compression garments such as a truss or bandage will not repair a hernia and will not prevent complications from developing.
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Hernia FAQHernia occurs when part of an organ (intestine, bowel, bladder) or fatty tissue pushes through a weak spot or tear in the abdominal muscles. Inguinal hernias occur in the groin and hiatal hernias occur in the stomach. Causes include weakness in the abdominal wall, injury, surgery, family history, pregnancy, and obesity. Symptoms include pain and swelling. Treatment is usually surgical repair.
ObesityMore than two-thirds of Americans are overweight, including at least one in five children. Nearly one-third are obese. Obesity is on the rise in our society because food is abundant and physical activity is optional. The safest way to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more. Treatment may also include medications, surgery, and behavior modification.
The Different Types of HerniasA hernia happens whenever a wall or membrane in the body weakens or ruptures, allowing organs to slip through. These can be painful, but are generally not serious and can be easily corrected with surgery. The types of abdominal hernias include: hiatal hernia, umbilical hernia, or incisional hernia.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.