Hernia: Definition, Causes, Types Explained

Hernia can be excruciatingly painful for an individual. If you're experiencing acute pain and a noticeable bulge in your body, it could be a hernia. Learn about the different hernia types here and the primary factors that trigger them.

What is a Hernia?


A hernia is a condition where an organ forces through an opening in the muscle or connective tissue which is responsible for holding it in place. This is not a life-threatening condition but needs medical/surgical intervention to prevent complications.

More often than not, a hernia takes place between the chest and the stomach, but can also occur in areas like the abdomen and uterus of an individual. In these cases, hernia diagnosis needs to be provided immediately.


What are the causes of hernia?


Consistent pressure and muscle weakness in a particular area of the body contribute to the formation of hernia. They may develop rapidly or over a long period, determined by their causative factors.

The most common hernia causes are:

  • Lifting heavy weights either for exercising or for work
  • Chronic cough caused by conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD)
  • Constipation over a prolonged period of time, resulting in an increase in abdominal pressure
  • Multiple pregnancies.
  • ObesityAscites or fluid accumulation in the abdomen.
  • Post damage from a surgery or injury.
  • A congenital condition, where the hernia is formed in the womb during developmental stages and is present at birth.

The associated risk factors:

  • Family history.
  • Smoking (weakens the connective tissue).
  • Premature birth or low birth weight.

Most hernias do not cause any significant symptoms and you might not even know that you have one. It may be diagnosed during a routine medical examination for some other ailment until which time it stays undetected. It is common to see hernia in men, women and children. As soon as any hernia symptoms are detected, you should consult your doctor before it's too late.


What are the different types of hernias and their symptoms?


Your medical professional will be able to diagnose the type of hernia in females, men and children. Accordingly, a hernia treatment can be administered based on the symptoms you detect.

Here’s a quick overview of the different hernia types and their possible symptoms:
Inguinal Hernia:

This is the most common type of hernia seen more frequently in males than in females. 

In males the inguinal canal is a pathway for the spermatic cord and blood vessels which leads to the testicles and in women, the inguinal canal has the round ligament which supports the uterus. 

In this type of hernia, the fatty tissue or a part of the intestine protrudes into the groin.

The symptoms of inguinal hernia are :

  • It may present as a bulge in the area on either side of the pubic bone, which becomes more evident when you're upright, or while coughing or straining
  • Pain or discomfort in your groin
  • A heavy or dragging sensation in the groin
  • Weakness or pressure in the groin
  • Sometimes the intestines may move down into the scrotum which may be associated with pain and swelling around the testicles
An inguinal hernia isn't necessarily dangerous. At times it can lead to life-threatening complications.

Femoral Hernia: 

Here the bulge or the swelling is seen in the groin and affects older women.

Umbilical Hernia: 

Here, the swelling is seen through the belly button (umbilicus, navel). This is a common type of hernia in children.

If you’re noticing hernia umbilical symptoms in your kids, ensure they’re undergoing the hernia umbilical surgery on an immediate basis to reduce the pain.

Hiatal or diaphragmatic Hernia: 

In this hernia, a part of the stomach will be pushed into the chest cavity through an opening in the diaphragm (the horizontal sheet of muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen). 

It is commonly seen in older patients( >50 years and in obese patients).

 The symptoms of a hiatal hernia will be different and more specific. The lump formed here pushes through the diaphragm, causing chest pain, trouble swallowing, and heartburn.

Incisional Hernia: 

Here the tissue protrudes through the site of an abdominal scar from a previous or old abdominal or pelvic operation.

Epigastric Hernia: 

In this type, the fatty tissue protrudes through the abdominal area between the navel and lower part of the sternum (breastbone)

Spigelian Hernia: 

Here the intestine pushes through the abdomen at the side of the abdominal muscle, below the navel.

Depending on the type of your condition, take an estimate of the hernia operation cost prior to the diagnosis from the expert doctors at MedFin


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