Overview of Hernia
A hernia is the occurrence of a lump mostly in the abdominal or the groin area. This occurs when an organ or a fat tissue is pushed out through a weak muscle or connective tissue.
Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Risk factors
The type of hernia is classified depending upon the location of the hernia. Some of the common types are-
Inguinal Hernia – Men are affected by this type of hernia, which is very common. The intestine breaks through the weak areas of the abdominal wall to cause an inguinal hernia.
Hiatal Hernia – A small part of the stomach bulges out of the diaphragm into the chest cavity to form a hiatal hernia. This type is also found in children who have a congenital disability.
Ventral Hernia – This type of hernia is mostly found during childbirth, pregnancy or in patients suffering from obesity. In this type, a weak tissue bulges out between the openings of the muscles in the abdominal area.
Umbilical Hernia – It is a common condition found in all newborns which should disappear on its own once the abdominal muscles get stronger. This condition occurs when the intestine bulges through the abdominal wall. It can also happen in an adult during pregnancy and obesity.
Causes of Hernia
Hernias are usually caused due to the straining of weak muscles. Some of the common hernia causes are –
● A congenital disability that occurs during the advancement in the womb and becomes evident after birth.
● Damage caused due to surgery or an injury
● Lifting heavy weights or strenuous exercise
● Ageing – Muscles weaken as you grow old which increases the risk of hernia
● Pregnancy exerts pressure on abdominal muscles leading to hernia.
● Straining of intestinal muscles during constipation
● Smoking increase coughing, which develops pressure on weak muscles to cause a hernia.
● Family history of hernia
● Cystic fibrosis
● Chronic coughing or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)
Symptoms of Hernia
The symptoms depend on the type and severity of the hernia present. Most common symptoms of a hernia are-
● Presence of lump in the affected area
● Discomfort and pain during certain activities like coughing, standing, bending, bowel movements or while lifting heavy objects.
Risk factors of Hernia
Serious complications may occur when a hernia is left untreated. Some of the common risk factors are
● Obstruction in bowel movements which causes severe pain.
● Discomfort and pain caused due to trapping of the intestine into the abdominal wall. If left untreated, the intestines won’t receive enough blood flow leading to strangulation and infections. This condition needs immediate medical attention as it could be life-threatening.
● The hernia’s growth can exert pressure on nearby healthy organs which damages them eventually by obstructing blood flow.
● Other risk factors include nausea or vomiting, fever and a bulge that turns red or purple.
Hernia Prevention Tips
A hernia cannot be prevented if it is an existing inherited condition or a congenital disability. However, simple lifestyle adjustments can help you in avoiding the occurrence of hernia. Some of the important tips are –
● Avoid tight-fitting clothes as it exerts pressure on organs to push out through weak muscles.
● Maintain a healthy body weight.
● Do not stress your bowel movements. Consult a doctor to ease constipation.
● Maintain proper posture while lifting heavyweights. Do not strain your muscles too much.
● Do not engage in stressful activities immediately after a meal. This increases abdominal pressure.
Healthier Lifestyle to Lower The Risk of Hernia
Some of the healthy lifestyle tips to lower the risk of hernia are –
● Quit Smoking – Smoking causes chronic coughing, which exerts pressure on weak muscles leading to hernia.
● Maintain Healthy Body Weight – The excessive fat present in the body squeezes and pressurizes internal organs and weak muscles to cause a hernia.
● Avoid Lifting Heavy Weights – Do not overstrain muscles by lifting heavy objects. Ensure you maintain good body postures while lifting heavy objects.
● Intake of Fibre Rich Food – Eating a good amount of fibre rich food can keep constipation problems away.
● Exercise – Workout regularly as it helps in strengthening weak muscles.
● Relax After a Meal – Staying relaxed after a heavy meal is the best way of avoiding a hernia. Do not indulge in stressful activities soon after a meal
● Regular Health Checkup – Sometimes, it is difficult to diagnose a hernia due to the absence of an evident bulge or lump. During a regular health checkup, any abnormality can be easily diagnosed and can be treated effectively.