People often associate hernias with the abdomen or pelvis, but they can occur almost anywhere in the body. A hernia is a condition in which tissue that’s supposed to hold an organ or another body part in place fails to do so, which allows the part to bulge through into an area it doesn’t belong.
Most hernias aren’t immediately life-threatening, but that doesn’t make them less scary. Fortunately, you can rest easy knowing they’re very treatable with typically routine surgical intervention. The most important thing is to seek treatment if you think you have a hernia.
An early diagnosis can help keep your hernia from worsening or becoming more painful. On top of that, repairing a hernia with surgery as early as possible generally requires less surgical time which can lead to better outcomes, faster recoveries, and fewer risks.
Scott A. deVilleneuve, MD, of Surgical Associates of North Texas in McKinney, Texas, uses minimally invasive methods to treat hernias whenever possible. If you’re undergoing hernia treatment or had a hernia in the past, Dr. deVilleneuve recommends adapting these four lifestyle habits to help keep your symptoms under control.
1. Watch your weight
Most hernias occur because of too much strain or pressure on weakened tissue, and this pressure can come by way of carrying too much weight.
Being overweight has direct links to hernia formation due to the increased pressure it can put on the abdominal wall. Plus, people with a high body mass index (BMI) have a greater risk for complications after undergoing hernia surgery.
If you have extra pounds to lose, starting your weight loss journey now may help you manage your symptoms and improve your post-surgical outcomes.
2. Rethink your diet
While a diet can’t cure your hernia — only surgery can — changing your diet can help with weight loss, which as stated above may ease your symptoms and potentially keep your condition from worsening.
3. Choose the right exercises
Many people think they can no longer exercise if they suffer a hernia, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Physical activity is an essential component to staying strong, vital, and having a healthy weight.
You should, however, consult with Dr. deVilleneuve about how you should exercise. Once Dr. deVilleneuve says you can resume regular activity, you must tailor your program to your hernia and its location. In most cases, that means exercises that strengthen the abdominal muscles and reduce fat.
And while most people can safely work out despite suffering a hernia, there are routines you may need to avoid, such as:
- Situps and reverse abdominal crunches
- Lifting heavy weights
- Exercises with pushing or pulling
- Movements that include kicking or punching
Finally, consider exercise as a way to get in tune with your body, especially the area with a hernia. This awareness can help you avoid unnecessary strain, pain, and additional injury.
4. Quit smoking
Did you know that people who smoke get hernias at higher rates than nonsmokers? This occurs for several reasons.
As we mentioned, strain is often to blame for hernias. Furthermore, seemingly harmless things can cause strain. For example, even urinating or coughing can trigger a hernia. And one thing long-term smokers often experience is a chronic cough.
Smoking also interferes with collagen formation in the body. As collagen decreases, so does tissue strength, especially in the abdominal wall. Plus, smoking has a profound impact on the body’s ability to heal. The result? People who smoke are four times more likely to have recurring hernias.
Worse yet, it’s also more common for smokers to develop postoperative infections, which are incredibly rare with nonsmokers.
Do you need help with a hernia? We can give you a thorough evaluation and discuss your next steps. To learn more, call 972-947-2264 or book an appointment online with Surgical Associates of North Texas today.