A hernia is a weakness or tear in the abdominal muscles that allows fatty tissue or an organ such as the intestines to protrude through the weak area. Hernias can occur in many places in the body, most often in the groin.
Sometimes a weak spot in the abdominal wall can even be present at birth. It can also occur in the abdomen, around the navel or through previous sites of abdominal surgery.
Different people feel varying degrees of pain. Some people even feel that something has ruptured or given way. Other symptoms may include:
- Feelings of weakness, pressure, burning or pain in the abdomen, groin or scrotum
- A bulge or lump in the abdomen, groin or scrotum that is easier to see when you cough and disappears when you lie down
- Pain when straining, lifting or coughing
Also Read: Home Remedies For Hernia
Hernias aren't really hereditary but mostly either acquired or congenital. One may inherit a tendency to have weak abdominal muscles from one of the parents. Chronic coughing from the lung irritation caused by smoking can put one at increased risk for a hernia. It can also cause a hernia to recur.
Heavy smokers also tend to develop abdominal hernias at a higher rate than non-smokers. That's because exposure to nicotine can help weaken the abdominal wall.
People at large have many myths surrounding hernia and it is important to interrogate and understand the physiologic and anatomic changes that occur after hernia surgery (i.e., how these operations cure hernias).
The goal is inventing new, less invasive and less expensive treatments for the many patients suffering from hernia.
Myth 1: Can Hernia Be Cured By Yoga?
It is necessary and important to have a hernia repaired through surgery only. If a hernia is left untreated, it may increase in size and become more painful. Most importantly, any hernia can lead to more serious, even life-threatening complications.
Myth 2: Hernia Can Be Left Alone
No. One of the major complications is strangulation and life threatening. Strangulation requires immediate surgery to not just release the trapped bowel but also to repair the hernia defect with a prosthetic material.
Myth 3. Can Hernia Develop With Gymming?
Actually, this one is true. Hernias can be caused or, if they are already present, exacerbated by heavy lifting. However, it's not the whole truth. There are several different types of hernias, although the most common one, by far, is the inguinal hernia which takes place in the abdomen.
A hernia occurs whenever an organ pushes through its muscle or tissue lining and it hurts like hell. Unfortunately, there are many other problems that can cause a hernia. These include fluid in the abdomen, sudden weight gain, pregnancy, constipation and persistent coughing.
You can even get a hernia by sneezing too hard. If you have muscle weakness, you are more at risk of a hernia and there are several factors that contribute towards this issue: age, injuries, chronic coughing and congenital defects.
Also Read: Yoga For Hernia
Myth 4: Hernias Recur
Yes. They can. Most recurrences are due to persistent coughing and difficulty in urination. Also, it can happen with people who have inherited collagen 1 deficiency. Newer technology has almost looked into this issue and this problem has been resolved with current mesh.
The incidence of hernia is more frequent in men compared to women. While congenital defect leading to hernia cannot be prevented, the acquired ones can certainly be prevented.
Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, having plenty of fibre, quitting smoking, etc. are some of the ways to prevent hernia. A healthy lifestyle is the key to avoid all major health problems and hernia is no different!
Dr Shabeer is currently working as a Senior Consultant, Gastrointestinal & Laparoscopic and Bariatric Surgeon at Fortis Hospital, Bangalore.