A hernia is characterized by a protrusion of an organ or other structure through a body cavity where it is typically contained. A hernia may produce slight to no pain.
There are several causes for hernias including genetics, straining, lifting heavy objects or obesity. The danger presented by a hernia involves constricting the blood supply to the affected organs. This results in an oxygen deficiency that can destroy tissue. Treatment for a hernia depends on the type and severity.
In many cases, a hernia may be treated with a few lifestyle changes or medication. In severe cases, hernias may become a life-threatening situation. A physician should be consulted for a complete diagnosis and treatment plan.
A hiatal hernia occurs when a portion of the stomach protrudes through an opening in the diaphragm. This type of hernia is usually treated by changes in diet and over the counter medications such a Pepcid, Tagamet or other antacids.
A femoral hernia is when a portion of the intestines protrudes through the abdominal cavity into the upper thigh area. Should the condition cause severe discomfort, surgery is required to reposition the organs and repair the tissue.
A congenital diaphragmatic hernia is a birth defect where the abdominal organs protrude into the chest cavity. Infants born with a diaphragmatic hernia are unable to breathe well as a result of the organs blocking their lungs. A hernia of this type is a severe medical emergency that requires surgery to remove the organs from the lung cavity.
An umbilical hernia occurs when the intestines protrude from the abdominal cavity into the area around the navel. This type of hernia is usually found in infant and children. It usually will disappear, as children grow older. However, if the hernia grows larger and becomes painful, it may require surgery.