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What Is A Hernia And What Are The Symptoms?

If you have a lump on your body that is painful or swollen and can’t be easily explained, you may have a hernia.


The lump is caused by an organ or fatty tissue pushing up against and eventually squeezing through a weak area of surrounding tissue or muscle.

Hernias are not always painful in fact you may not even realize that you have one.


A hernia is also not always serious, although as they can potentially lead to other serious medical issues and cut off blood supply, it is important to seek medical help immediately if you suspect you might have a hernia.

An estimated 40 percent of Americans have had a hernia, many of whom don’t bother to seek treatment.

If you are wondering what hernia is, it is also important to understand what causes them. Most people associate a hernia with heavy lifting, which can result in low back pain, and although this is one of the most common causes, there are several others.

Hernias can be caused by heavy or frequent coughing, and excessive straining while urinating or having a bowel movement. Being obese can bring on a hernia, as can chronic lung disease and fluid present in the abdominal cavity.

Although many hernias occur later in life, you can get one at literally any age and you are also more at risk of developing a hernia if there is a family history of the condition.


A weak spot which develops in the fetus can also lead to a hernia later in life. Constipation, diarrhea and constant smoking can all lead to a hernia.

There is really no sure way to prevent a hernia from occurring, although if you routinely lift heavy or large objects, you may want to take precautions.

Certain foods are more effective at minimizing the chances of getting a hernia, such as lean meats, fat free cheese, egg whites, oatmeal and grains, bananas and apples, and a diet which includes plenty of water each day.

what-is-a-hernia

This is a great tip when moving: use a dolly!

One approach is to regularly and thoroughly check your body for unexplained lumps or swollen areas, or such areas that suddenly develop for no apparent reason.

These areas may or may not be painful, although if you experience pain when sneezing or coughing, it may be a sign that you have a hernia.

If you have a swollen are and you are also experiencing nausea or vomiting, you may have a hernia, as the bowels are being blocked.

There are several different types of hernia, although the symptoms and signs are fairly similar.

Hernias as a result of an incision, and those around the inner and outer groin and the upper stomach are the most common.

Women are also more at risk of developing a femoral hernia, which occurs when the intestine is pushed into the canal which carries the femoral artery into the upper thigh.

If the small intestine passes through the body’s abdominal wall in the area of the navel, it is known as an umbilical hernia, and newborn babies are especially at risk from this.

Although the above are the most common types of hernia, they can develop anywhere where there is too much internal pressure against an area of tissue or muscle.

Abdomen hernia

Man recovering from surgery.

If you develop a serious hernia, the only effective treatment is surgery to remove it and an estimated 750,000 people in the US have so called hernia repair surgery each year.

Less serious hernias can sometimes be treated with a truss or a harness, a device worn around the affected area of the body to push back the protruding organ.

Some less serious hernias don’t really need to be treated at all, and many people put off surgery for many years simply because the condition is not considered to be too serious.

If you have certain other medical conditions, they may need to brought under control before surgery can be carried out; these include prostate problems, lung disease and diabetes.

A hernia is not the most serious thing that can happen to you, although in rare instances, it can have life threatening consequences. Once you understand hernia, it makes it much easier to diagnose it and then make sure you get the appropriate medical help if needed.

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