Hernias are fairly common and they occur when there is a weakness in a muscle or tissue wall that allows an internal part of the body to push through, usually causing a lump.
Most lumps can be pushed in, and some disappear when lying down, but straining or coughing can make the lump appear again.
Whilst many hernias cause no symptoms and can be left untreated, there are cases where it is dangerous to leave a hernia, which is why diagnosis is essential.
There are many types of hernia, the most common are located in the groin, but essentially a hernia can appear anywhere between your chest and hip.
these are the most common types of hernia occurring when part of your bowel, or fatty tissue located nearby, pokes through your groin, which is the area at the top of your inner thigh. Men are more prone to this type of hernia as it can be linked to repetitive straining from activities such as weight lifting or demanding sports. Age also plays a part.
these types of hernia are much less common than inguinal hernias, however they also relate to the bowel, or fatty tissue poking through your groin area. They are caused again by repeated straining although are more common for women.
relate to the bowel or nearby fatty tissue and they protrude near to your belly button. This type of hernia is also caused by repeated strain in adults. However, babies can be affected with umbilical hernias when there are issues with the abdomen opening through which the umbilical cord passes, not sealing properly after birth.
these types of hernias appear in the chest area, where part of the stomach pushes up into the chest, through the diaphragm. The exact cause of a hiatus hernia isn’t really known, although age could is often a factor, alongside unusual pressure on the abdomen. There may be no symptoms, although in some cases, people experience heartburn.
are less common and occur when a surgical wound is in the healing process, but tissue can still poke through
are also less common and appear between your belly button and your sternum, due to fatty tissue escaping through your abdomen.
these hernias appear below your belly button and occur when your bowel pokes through your abdominal muscle.
relates to hernias that occur when an organ moves through your diaphragm and into your chest area.
is a term used to describe when a muscle pokes through your abdomen or leg, usually following high intensity sports activities.
Consultation with a specialist that can conduct the necessary diagnosis tests is the first step.
Symptoms may include:
- Severe pain
- Tenderness when pressing the hernia
- Inability to press the hernia back in
These symptoms may indicate that an organ, or tissue, has had its blood supply cut off due to the hernia, a condition called strangulation. It could also indicate that a part of the bowel has become blocked, known as obstruction.
If strangulation or obstruction occurs, it requires you to visit an A&E department or attend an emergency appointment with a specialist, although your GP may be your first point of contact.
This may depend on a combination of the following:
- Type of hernia
- Content of the hernia, for example if part of the bowel or muscle tissue has entered the hernia
- Symptoms, particularly if they are worsening
- Impact on your daily life
- General health
Most hernias will not repair themselves if left alone, however many do not worsen either. The doctor will assess the risks of surgery, particularly depending on the level of your general health and ensure the benefits would be greater.
Of course, there are times when surgery is essential too.
Keyhole surgery is generally a more attractive option for the patient, as there is less scarring and recovery times are generally faster. The skill of the doctor is important, as the technique is more difficult to perform though.
Typically following surgery, you can go home within 24 hours, often the same day if there are no complications. A full recovery is normal over a few weeks.
There are risks involved with all surgery so it is important to discuss this with your doctor and ensure you have expert medical professionals taking care of you during the process.