A hernia is a condition where the connective tissue that holds your intestines in place (called the fascia) develops a hole or tear. This allows the organs that it would normally be holding in to protrude through, causing pain and potentially becoming stuck, or incarcerated. Because of the potentially severe consequences of having a hernia, being aware of the symptoms and causes is an important thing to consider.
Hernias are common, with over 800,000 hernia repairs performed annually in the United States. Most of these (>75%) are in men, with inguinal hernias being far and away the most common type. While most of our data is in relation to adults, hernias can occur in newborns and children as well. Kids born with an umbilical hernia might have it disappear on its own during the first few years of life, but any hernia present after the age of 5 is going to need surgery as otherwise it will not go away on its own.
Most people who eventually develop a hernia are born with some sort of predisposition that makes them more susceptible to developing hernias. In other cases, hernias can be the result of:
Early signs of a hernia are a small bulge in your lower abdomen and a feeling of increased pressure. You may also feel nausea and pain. Often you notice your hernia more acutely when you put pressure on it while exercising or making a bowel movement.
There are many different types of hernias. Some are more prevalent in men and some in women, while one type affects mostly children. The most common types of hernias include:
This type of hernia occurs near the bellybutton. While adults can get these, they are most common in newborns and babies under 6 months old. Parents may notice a bulge near their child’s bellybutton.
The good news about this common type of hernia is that it typically resolves without surgery by the time the baby turns 1. But if the hernia bulge does not go away, surgery will be needed to fix it.
Most hernias are inguinal hernias, which usually affect men but can also affect women. They occur near the groin, or inguinal canal. The inguinal canal in men is a passageway between the abdomen and the scrotum that houses the spermatic cord. Women also have an inguinal canal, which supports the uterus.
If you have an inguinal hernia, you may notice a bulge near your groin and also some pain and swelling. Surgery is needed to repair this type of a hernia.
A ventral or epigastric hernia will occur anywhere along the anterior abdominal wall in a location away from the umbilicus, thus distinguishing it from an umbilical hernia. The causes of this type are very similar to those for an umbilical hernia, and treatment often mirrors that as well.
Sometimes there are no symptoms and other times a ventral hernia may cause abdominal pain and bulging, nausea, and vomiting. Surgery is required to treat this type of a hernia. If left untreated, it can grow and lead to serious complications.
After abdominal surgery, some people experience muscle weakness as a result of their surgery. With an incisional hernia, the intestines bulge through your abdomen near the abdominal surgical incision. You need surgery to repair this type of a hernia.
A hiatal hernia forms close to where your esophagus runs through your diaphragm. At this point, there is a gap or opening. A hiatal hernia forms when your stomach bulges through this gap. Symptoms include heartburn and indigestion.
This type of hernia affects pregnant women and people 50 and older. Treatment for a hiatal hernia includes lifestyle changes, medication, and sometimes surgery.
For more information on hernia symptoms and repair, call Surgical Associates of North Texas, located in McKinney, Texas, or make an appointment online.