Have you ever experienced sudden shooting pain in the abdomen but have ignored thinking it to be a normal stomach cramp due to overeating or for women a sign of their periods to start? But, that much pain could be a sign of hernia too. Hernia, a common health concern, but less known to people, is a swelling in the body, which comes due to an abnormal shift in the position of the intestinal organs, which appears as a swelling in the body. Explaining all about Hernia is Dr Gaurav Maheshwari, Head and Sr. Consultant - Surgical Gastroenterology at Paras Hospitals, Panchkula where he delves deep into the topic, its diagnosis, treatment and management.
Types of Hernia
- Inguinal hernia: An inguinal (groin) hernia occurs when the portion of the intestine protrudes through a weak spot at the inguinal canal (in the abdominal wall). What is the inguinal canal? It is a way near the groin that goes through the abdominal wall. Do you know that inguinal hernias are up to ten times more prevalent in men than in women?
- Incisional hernia: Bulging of intestines caused by previous gastric surgery due to weakness in the abdominal wall. Over-weight and elderly individuals are more inclined to this kind.
- Femoral hernia: Protuberance occurs near the groin in the upper part of the thigh, where the femoral aorta runs. It is seen to be more widespread in women than in men.
- Umbilical hernia: The intestines swell due to weakness of abdominal muscles (near the navel). This type of hernia gradually disappears as the newborns' age. It is common amongst women and also affects who have been pregnant several times and are obese.
- Hiatal hernia: In this type, it is the stomach which bulges near to the oesophagus (into a natural opening of the diaphragm).
- Lumps or bulges in the groin or abdomen area.
- Feeling a “pull” or dull aches in the affected area. While doing strenuous activity pain increases
- When the person is stretched out or standing, bulges can be seen. No lumps will be noticed if the person is resting.
- Active exercise
- Poor nutrition
- Weakened muscles
- Bad habits like smoking
- Due to surgery or old age, muscle weakness can be genetic.
- Activities like coughing, weight lifting, and constipation (causing pressure on the abdomen). Do you know obesity can cause hernias too?
- Avoid activities that cause pressure or strain on the abdomen.
- Maintain a steady weight as hernias can also be caused by obesity.
- Bowel problems like diarrhoea and constipation need to be handled as they put pressure on the abdomen muscle.
- Stop smoking! Do you know that extreme coughing can also lead to a hernia?
- Drink plenty of water and eat a high-fibrous diet for a smooth bowel movement.
Do you know that not all hernias need to be treated? Because it depends on how the hernia is affecting you. Depending on the size and symptoms of the hernia surgery may be required. To prevent any aggravation, strangulated hernias need to be treated urgently. When the bulging intestines get stuck in the gap of the abdominal wall, they are known as strangulated hernias. Less invasive surgery or traditional operations like laparoscopy are performed. Stopping the protrusion all together, mesh plugs are patched into the weakened intestinal walls. Nowadays you can leave the hospital on the same day as recovery time after the surgery is less.
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