What is a Hernia?

A hernia is a protrusion or pushing out by an organ or tissues through a weakened abdominal wall. This weakened area can no longer hold the tissues in. Hernias have long been noted, even in the earliest of medical recordings.

Males are more likely than females to develop a hernia. The most common area for a hernia to occur is in the groin area. Some hernias are congenital (you are born with them) and some occur around surgical scars. In a working environment, chronic overstretching of the musculature due to increased intra-abdominal pressure may contribute to an acquired hernia.

The symptoms of a hernia include heaviness or a tugging sensation in the abdomen, especially the lower abdomen, or in the groin. The dull pain may get worse with standing, coughing, straining or lifting. A bulge may be seen. It can be painful or painless and is usually more easily seen with standing. Symptoms may be relieved with lying down.

Hernias can be classified as reducible or irreducible. Reducible hernias can spontaneously, or with gentle pressure, return into the abdominal cavity. Irreducible hernias do not. If there is a compromise of the blood supply to the contents of the herniated sac, then the tissues can be damaged or even die.

Treatment for hernias is often a surgical repair. The outcomes are excellent and often there is a rapid return to pre-surgical health.

Prevention of hernias can include maintaining good abdominal muscle tone, preventing constipation, and breathing through heavy lifting to avoid increased intra-abdominal pressure.

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