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What is a Hernia?

A hernia develops when a gap develops within a muscle or tissue allowing an organ to break through the space. For example, an abdominal hernia occurs when weakened tissue allows the intestine to break through the abdominal wall. A hernia can occur almost anywhere in the body, but the area we see the most hernias is the abdominal wall, located between the chest and hips.

Most hernias are not life-threatening unless they are left untreated, which can allow them to increase in size and potentially trap an organ and prevent adequate blood flow, which can damage vital organs. Hernias can develop slowly over many years, or quickly progress, due to a wide range of factors.
Some possible causes of hernias can include:

Some possible causes of hernias can include:

  • Congenital formation
  • Aging
  • Injury or surgery
  • Chronic coughing
  • COPD
  • Heavy lifting
  • Pregnancy
  • Constipation
  • Obesity
  • Fluid buildup in the abdomen
  • Family history
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Smoking

Types of Hernias

Spigelian Hernia or Spaghetti Hernia
This hernia is rare and similar to a ventral hernia. This develops when the fascia pushes through a hole in the Linea semilunaris. A portion of the intestine can move through this space. The surgeon can quickly repair this. If you have this and neglect getting it fixed, it can proceed in size and become a severe health risk. Surgery is the only option for treatment. This develops only on the right or left side of the abdomen and once repaired it rarely reappears.

Spingelian Hernia

Inguinal Hernia
An inguinal hernia develops when part of the intestine enters through a weak spot in a part of the abdominal wall. You may notice increased pain when you bend over, lift heavy objects, or when you cough.

This is not typically serious. However, this can become hazardous to your health if it becomes more prominent. These hernias are known to heal themselves. However, if it keeps growing bigger and becomes more painful, you will need surgical intervention to fix it to prevent it from strangulating and cutting off blood flow to the tissue.

Hiatal Hernia
A hiatal hernia is seen most commonly in men or women over age 50-years or those who are obese. This develops when a portion of the upper stomach bulges through the diaphragm. You may not be aware that you have a hiatal hernia until your doctor discovers it on an X-ray or during a physical exam.

If this gets large, it can allow food and acid to back up into your esophagus, causing heartburn. Preventative measures can keep this stable, such as taking an antacid daily, losing weight, wearing tight clothing, chewing food well, and leaving the table a bit hungry. If this is significant, you may require surgical intervention to repair the area.

This can develop if you are born with a significant hiatus, have much coughing, vomiting, straining for a bowel movement, heavy lifting, exercise, injury, and age.

Umbilical Hernia
The doctor may find this in newborns and young children, but it can appear at any age near the belly button as a bulge. In children, this may disappear as the abdominal wall strengthens. When the child reaches five years of age, and this is still present, the doctor may want to perform surgery. Adults who have repeated straining on the abdomen wall, are obese, pregnant, or have fluid in the abdomen wall may develop this hernia.

Ventral Hernia
This bulges through the muscles in your abdomen. When laying down, it may disappear. This version

  • Develops in the obese
  • In those who perform strenuous activities
  • During pregnancy
  • At the site of a prior surgical incision

The treatment for this is through surgical repair, depending on the size and level of symptoms.

  • The doctor may order you to try medication to relieve stomach acids such as proton pump inhibitors, antacids, or H-2 receptor blockers.
  • Increasing fiber intake to relieve constipation
  • Eat high fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains
  • Lose weight
  • Avoid spicy foods, tomato-based foods, smoking
  • Develop an exercise plan

Signs of a Hernia

Different hernias display different signs and symptoms. Some types of hernias are more prevalent in men while others are more prevalent in women. A doctor may discover one during an X-ray procedure or physical exam. The following are a mixture of signs and symptoms of all hernias, depending on the type.

  • A bulge near the pubic bone
  • Burning or aching at the site
  • Heavy feeling at the site
  • Men may feel random pain and swelling around the testicles if this hernia enters the scrotum.
  • Heartburn
  • Regurgitation of food or liquids into the mouth
  • Swallowing difficulty
  • Feelings of fullness soon after eating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the abdomen or chest
  • Vomiting blood
  • Passing blood in the stools

signs of a hernia

Other Facts About Hernias

  • You may or may not know that you have a specific hernia. The doctor may find your hernia during a routine physical exam or on an X-ray intended for another purpose. Hernia repair involves a surgical procedure to fix the hernia. Hernias usually appear in the abdomen wall under the abdomen’s skin near the groin or belly button.
  • Hernias typically do not get better on their own and only grow larger. Sometimes it can cause complications and life-threatening circumstances. It is for this reason that the doctor recommends surgical intervention. However, surgery depends on the size and symptoms. A large hernia can become strangulated, cutting off the oxygen supply to a vital organ.
  • You may never need surgery if it is small, and you can reduce it by laying down and pushing it back into the abdomen. This type is reducible. Let your doctor decide and help you to weigh the pros and cons of surgery.
  • There are two ways the surgeon can repair one, which include pushing it back into place and tying it off or removing it.
  • Any surgery, including hernia surgery, has risks such as infection of the wound, blood clots, increased temporary surgical pain, recurrence of the condition
  • You may be able to opt-out of surgery if it is small, and you have no symptoms. The doctor may want you to wear an abdominal binder or truss.

Do you Need Treatment for your Hernia?

If you are experiencing pain or discomfort from a hernia, do not wait for your symptoms to worsen. Contact us today at the North Texas Medical Center to schedule an appointment to see a doctor, and receive treatment to repair it.