A hernia is a common medical issue occurring when tissue or a portion of an internal organ bulges through an opening or weak spot in muscle tissue. Although the majority of hernias occur in the abdomen, they can occur in other parts of the body as well. Hernias are most common in individuals born with weak abdominal muscles and can occur in men and women as well as newborns and children. Straining and heavy lifting is thought to contribute to hernia onset.
Types of Hernias
Several different types of hernias exist. These include:
- Inguinal hernias, the most common type of hernia, located in the groin
- Umbilical hernias, usually found in infants, appear around the navel
- Incisional hernias, which erupt through a scar
- Hiatal hernias, small openings in the diaphragm through which the upper portion of the stomach moves into the chest
Symptoms of a hernia will vary depending on the type as well as when the hernia develops. Many people, especially children experience no symptoms at all. Others will experience pain and discomfort in the area of the hernia. Usually, a hernia is diagnosed when an individual complains of a protrusion that is painful and growing in size. Hernias that grow too big can get stuck inside the hole in the muscle tissue and consequently be cut off from blood supply. When this strangulation occurs, emergency surgery is required.
Diagnosis of a Hernia
Most doctors and nurses can see or feel hernias on examination, but a hernia may not be as easy to detect in infants and children. If necessary, an ultrasound or CT scan may be done to locate a hernia.
Treatment and Prognosis
Today, surgery is the only effective treatment for a hernia. During the procedure, a surgeon strengthens the compromised abdominal wall and closes any holes, usually with cloth patches. Umbilical hernias in children often heal on their own but may require surgery if not healed by the time a child is five. In the case of strangulation, when the tissue or part of an organ has gotten stuck, emergency surgery may be required. If left untreated, the stuck tissue will die from lack of blood supply.
Most people with hernias recover quickly and completely, Hernias seldom return, although incisional hernias are the most likely to do so.
Although some hernias will occur regardless of healthcare and fitness, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight will help toward prevention. Proper lifting techniques will also minimize the risk of a hernia.