Hernias: What You Need to Know

What you need to know about hernias this National Hernia Awareness Month

(RxWiki News) June is National Hernia Awareness Month. Take a few minutes to learn more about hernias.

In the United States alone, doctors perform more than 1 million abdominal wall hernia repairs every year, according to Medscape. Read on to learn more about this serious health issue.

What Is a Hernia?

A hernia happens when one of your internal organs or body parts pushes through the tissue or muscle that usually contains it. Because many internal organs are inside the muscle-bound abdominal cavity, most hernias occur in the abdominal area, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

There are several types of hernias:

  • Inguinal hernia. In this type of hernia, part of the intestine or fatty tissue protrudes into the groin near the top of your inner thigh.
  • Femoral hernia. A femoral hernia occurs when fatty tissue or part of the intestine pushes through muscle and into the femoral canal in the inner thigh.
  • Umbilical hernia. This type of hernia occurs near the belly button.
  • Hiatal hernia. If you have a hiatal hernia, part of your stomach has been pushed up into your chest cavity through an opening in your diaphragm.
  • Incisional hernia. This type of hernia occurs when an organ or tissue pushes through an abdominal scar left by a surgical incision.
  • Epigastric hernia. This is an abdominal hernia that occurs above the belly button and below the breast bone.
  • Spigelian hernia. This type of hernia happens when the intestine pushes through your abdomen at the side of the stomach muscle and below your belly button.

What Are the Symptoms of Hernias?

Symptoms of hernias include the following:

  • A noticeable lump or bulge
  • Pain at the site of the bulge
  • Pain during lifting
  • Feeling very full or showing signs of bowel obstruction
  • Dull, aching pain

Some hernias, such as hiatal hernias, won't cause a bulge. Symptoms for hiatal hernias can include chest pain, regurgitation, trouble swallowing, indigestion and heartburn.

What Causes Hernias?

Not all hernias have a clear cause, but common causes of hernias include weakened or strained muscles, being overweight or obese, a long-lasting and severe cough after giving birth and heavy lifting that strains the abdomen.

What Are the Treatments for Hernias?

Hernias do not usually go away with time and most often require treatment. The most common treatment is surgery. Multiple types of surgery can repair hernias, including open surgery and robotic surgery.

Can I Prevent Hernias?

Hernias are not always preventable, but the Cleveland Clinic recommends the following steps to prevent hernias:

  • Seek medical treatment when you have a persistent cough or are repeatedly sneezing.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Use proper form when lifting weights, and do not lift more than you can handle.
  • Eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables to prevent constipation.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight through exercise and a healthy diet.

If you think you have a hernia, seek medical care.