The hernia occurs when an organ pushes via an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds in place. In this condition, the intestines break up through the abdominal wall. They are most common in the abdomen and appear in upper thigh, stomach, and groin area. The hernia is not life threatening but if held for a longer time may prove dangerous. The common symptoms of the hernia causes are the bulge or lump in the affected area. The hernia is felt more while standing up. The hernia can occur at any age. When it occurs in children, the bulge can be felt when the kid is crying. A bulge is only the symptom of hernia.
The hernia causes cannot be exactly plotted. Researchers suggest the increase in pressure in the abdominal area is a major hernia cause. Sometimes a weak spot in the abdominal area also turns to be a major reason of hernia. A hiatus hernia is a type of the hernia that usually occur in overweight people and pregnant women. It occurs in these two categories as there is an increased pressure in the abdominal area.
Another common hernia is an inguinal hernia. An inguinal hernia mainly occurs in men in their groin area. Groin area is the region of the inguinal canal, where a spermatic cord and blood vessels to the testicles pass out of the abdominal cavity and into the scrotum. The cause is the weakness of abdominal tissues present in this canal. In this condition, a loop of bowel passes out of the abdomen by following the path of the spermatic cord or the loop passes between the opening into the inguinal canal and the pubic bone. The former is called indirect inguinal hernia and the latter is called direct inguinal hernia. Women rarely suffer from an inguinal hernia.
In women, the hernia occurs in the area where the tissue that binds the uterus exits from the abdomen and joins with the tissue surrounding the vaginal opening. Another form of the hernia called the umbilical hernia which is generally present by birth. In cases when it occurs in adults the cause is the weakness in the tissue in the umbilical area plus the increased pressure on the abdominal wall.
Additionally, there are some mechanical causes which lead to the hernia. Most common are improper heavy weight lifting, hard coughing bouts, sharp blows to the abdomen, and sitting or standing in an incorrect posture. Increased activities associated with chances for hernia causes are obesity, straining during a bowel movement or urination, regular constipation problems, enlarged prostate, chronic lung disease, and fluids in the abdominal cavity. Lifestyle patterns like unhealthy diet, overexertion, smoking etc. are also indirect hernia causes.
Abdominal wall hernia occurs during trauma conditions. In cases when the hernia is due to blunt trauma it is an emergency condition. This hernia can be associated with various solid organs and hollow viscus injuries.
Signs of hernia
In some cases, there are no symptoms seen until a medical exam is done for it. Although it more than half cases it’s painful and uneasy. The hernia causes and symptoms are as follows:
• Pain or discomfort in the affected area. The pain is more while coughing or lifting.
• Pressure or heaviness in the abdomen
• Burning, gurgling, and irritating sensation at the site of the bulge
• Acid reflux, it is a condition when stomach acid moves backward into the esophagus causing a burning and itchy sensation.
• Pain in chest due to bloating
• Difficulty in swallowing
Diagnosis of Hernia
The hernia is majorly diagnosed using X-rays and diagnostic tests like endoscopy, oesophageal manometry and other tests aimed to measure the oesophageal acidity. An inguinal hernia can be determined by a doctor by physical examination. The doctor can access it by feeling the area of the internal inguinal ring, deep in the groin. The bulge in the area gives a possibility of the hernia.
Treatment of Hernia
Different types of hernia are treated in different manners. As around 80 to 90% of hernia cases are a hiatus hernia consisting of severe gastric problems. In such cases, medication for heartburn along with dietary changes are recommended.
- Losing weight is also a way out to relieve the signs.
- The patients are also advised to sleep- keep the upper part of body elevated with the head of the bed raised or with a pile of pillows.
- A good posture while standing or sitting relieves the discomfort due to the hernia.
- Surgery is done rarely in the case of a hiatus hernia. It is the last option when the medical and dietary changes are not helping the patient to lessen their discomfort.
For umbilical and inguinal hernia surgery is the only treatment. It is more of a repair surgery in which the protruding mass is placed where it belongs. The weakened area is then sewed to keep the muscles intact. It’s a non-invasive procedure performed under local anesthesia. There is no hospital stay. However, regular follow-ups are demanded to cut down the future complications. The patient is restricted from performing strenuous exercises. With the advent of technology, the repair is done via laparoscopy method. In the laparoscopic hernia repair, a tiny incision is made to perform the procedure. The inside of the patient’s body can be seen on the screen. The treatment promotes faster healing with less likelihood of recurrence.
However, open surgeries are performed sometimes without general anesthesia. Uncomplicated hernias are principally repaired by pushing back, or reducing the herniated tissue. This is called the Muscle reinforcement techniques. It requires a mesh to be placed over the defective area. With the reinforcement technique chances of reoccurrence are reduced to a greater extent and allows speedy recovery. However, the chances of chronic pain and infection are more with this technique.
Whatever may be the method of treatment is lifestyle changes are a must for hernia patients. Avoiding large heavy meals, strenuous activities, too much of exercise, playing sports for a long time are the things that are to be avoided in all type of hernias.