The abdomen is a muscular sac that incases the intestines and other organs in the body. A hernia is a hole in the abdominal wall (the muscular sac) through which bowel, fat or other abdominal contents can get stuck or potentially escape.
Hernias can be congenital (born with) or acquired (developed over time) and there are many types. A few are mentioned below:
- Inguinal or groin hernias – These are most common in men and present as bulges in the groin. Fatty tissue or a part of the intestine irritates the groin at the top of the inner thigh and causes occasional pain.
- Incisional hernias – Develop after some form of operation when tissue protrudes through a scar. Anytime an incision is created on the abdomen after a procedure, a situation for a predisposed hernia can occur.
- Umbilical or “belly button” hernias – When fatty tissue pushes through the abdomen near the belly button, we call this an umbilical hernia. These are frequently present in children but also common in adults.
- Hiatal hernias – These are a special kind of hernia where the stomach escapes into the chest and predisposes patients to reflux and other clinical conditions which require surgical intervention. This kind of hernia should be fixed by a surgeon who specializes in surgery of the esophagus and the stomach.
Symptoms of a Hernia:
- A noticeable lump or bulge that can be pushed back in, or disappear when lying down. If the bulge fails to reduce or becomes extremely painful, or is associated with nausea, vomiting and abdominal distention, it is a sign of obstruction and likely needs emergency surgery.
- Swelling or bulge in the groin or scrotum
- Pain while lifting
- Increase in the bulge over time
- Increased pain at the site of the bulge
- An aching sensation
- A sense of feeling full
- With a hiatal hernia, there is no bulge – common symptoms include heartburn, indigestion, regurgitation, difficulty swallowing and chest pain.
Hernias often need to be repaired through surgery. If you have questions or concerns, reach out to your health care provider or contact UofL Health – Reflux, Swallowing & Hernia Center at 502-588-4571 today!