In this article, we will examine the most common types of hernias and the symptoms they can cause in your body, as well as how to prevent them.
The most common type of hernia is a hiatal hernia, which is when one of the muscles in your diaphragm the muscle that connects your chest to your abdomen bulges out of place.
This can result in a bulge in your stomach or upper abdomen, or it can occur in your chest.
A hernia can be a one-off or a chronic problem, so it is important to check in with your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve after several weeks.
Types of hernias
There are two main types of hernias:
- Incarcerated hernia
- Ventral hernia
An incarcerated hernia is when a part of your abdominal wall or diaphragm has become trapped, and it is trapped in the abdominal cavity.
This is the most common type of hernia, accounting for around 80 percent of all hernias in the United States.
The incarcerated hernia is usually caused by the following:
- Over-stretching of the muscles in your abdominal wall
- Repeated vomiting
In an incarcerated hernia, the muscle bulges into the abdominal cavity. The hernia itself does not cause any symptoms, but the trapped part of the abdomen can cause:
- A sharp, stabbing pain
- Abdominal bloating
Another type of incarcerated hernia is a ventral hernia. This type of hernia is more common in babies and is often caused by a defect in the diaphragm, which is the muscle that connects the chest to the abdomen.
These hernias can sometimes occur due to a growth defect, and they may also be misdiagnosed as:
- Stomach ulcers
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Intestinal obstructions
The most common symptoms of a ventral hernia are:
- A bulge in the stomach
- A lump in the stomach
- Pain in the upper abdomen
Ventral hernias can come and go, so it is important to keep an eye on your symptoms.
They can also be a chronic problem, so they may cause symptoms for many years.
Symptoms of hernias
The symptoms of a hernia vary depending on the type of hernia you have. They may include:
- A lump in the abdomen
- Pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
However, there are other possible symptoms that are specific to a particular type of hernia.
- Pain in the chest, shoulder, or neck
- A loss of appetite
- Urinary urgency
- Difficulty going to the toilet
- Numbness in the back of the legs or feet
- A weak or painful bowel movement
How to prevent hernias?
There are some things you can do to help prevent hernias in the first place.
To prevent a hernia, it is important to:
- Get regular exercise
- Lose weight
- Eat a balanced diet
- Don’t smoke
- Maintain a healthy body weight
However, there is no known way to prevent hernias completely.
You can, however, manage hernia symptoms. These include:
- Making sure you eat a nutritious diet, including plenty of food containing protein
- Taking medication if you’re prone to vomiting
A hernia can be a challenging condition to deal with, but it is important to be aware of its symptoms and seek medical help if you experience discomfort.
When to see your doctor?
See your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- A bulge in your abdomen
- An upper abdominal pain that doesn’t go away after several weeks
- Severe abdominal pain
- Pain that is constant and severe
You should also seek medical attention if you have any of the following symptoms:
- A bulge in your chest
- Trouble breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Numbness or weakness in your legs or feet
- A persistent dry cough
- A cough that is unproductive
- A fever
- A frequent need to urinate
- Redness or swelling in your abdomen
- Unexplained weight loss
- A pain in your back or shoulder
Your doctor will be able to examine your belly to confirm that you have a hernia and will be able to help you decide on the best course of treatment.
Treatment for hernias
There are a variety of treatments available for hernias.
Surgery is the most common treatment for a hernia. The procedure is called open surgery, and it can be done in an open procedure or laparoscopic surgery.
Open surgery can be done with a general or keyhole incision. Laparoscopic surgery involves small incisions and is less invasive than the open procedure.
Your doctor may also recommend nonsurgical treatment.
Nonsurgical treatment is intended for people who:
- Have mild symptoms
- Have hernia symptoms that don’t respond to other treatments
- Are at a high risk of having a hernia
Nonsurgical treatment may include:
- Physical therapy
- Dietary changes
- Pain management
In some cases, nonsurgical treatments are combined with surgery.
Surgery can be performed in various ways:
- Laparoscopic surgery is a less invasive procedure that has a shorter recovery period.
- Open surgery is the most common method of surgery, and it’s used if laparoscopic surgery is not possible.
- Mesh is a synthetic material that can be used for hernia repair.
- Wound closure is when the hernia is covered with stitches.
- Ligation is when the hernia is wrapped with sutures.
- Nissen fundoplication is a surgical technique that involves tightening the top of the stomach and the diaphragm to reduce the risk of developing a hernia.
Recovery and post-op care
Recovery from hernia surgery is usually quick and easy, but you may experience some pain and discomfort during the initial weeks after the procedure.
You may also need to stay in the hospital for a few days, depending on the type of hernia surgery and the type of hernia you have.
You may not experience any symptoms from a hernia, but it can cause issues with your digestive system.
A hernia can also cause other symptoms, so it is important to keep an eye on your symptoms and see your doctor if they don’t improve after several weeks.
A hernia can be a one-off or chronic problem, so it is important to keep an eye on your symptoms to see if they get worse.
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