Hernia Signs, Symptoms and Prevention

A hernia is a protrusion that occurs when part of an organ or tissue pushes through the wall that surrounds it. In some cases, hernias are harmless small lumps that don’t cause any pain or discomfort, but for others, hernias can be serious medical condition. It is estimated that 10 percent of the population will develop a hernia at some point in their lifetime, so it’s important to understand what causes hernias and how to detect them.

Some of the most common causes of hernias include:

  • Obesity
  • Poor nutrition
  • Straining during bathroom visits
  • Heavy weight lifting or physical exertion
  • Chronic cough
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Smoking
  • Abdominal fluid
  • Peritoneal dialysis (Source: Medical News Today)

Hernias most commonly occur in the groin, abdomen, navel and around the incision site of abdominal surgery. The most typical sign of a hernia – and the one easiest to recognize – is a bulge that appears beneath the skin. Hernias may also be accompanied by pressure, weakness and pain that worsens during strenuous activity. These types of hernias should be monitored by your doctor but do not require immediate treatment. If your hernia suddenly becomes painful, swollen and accompanied by fever, nausea or vomiting, seek emergency care immediately. These may be signs of bowel obstruction or strangulation, meaning the blood supply has been cut off to surrounding tissues (Source: New York-Presbyterian Hospital).

If your hernia is mild, you might feel like medical care isn’t necessary, but it’s always a good idea to have it checked out by your doctor. Hernias never go away on their own, and the only treatment is with surgery. Hernias typically worsen over time, so make sure your doctor knows to monitor your symptoms. Together you can decide when and if elective surgery should be an option.

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