If you have a hernia, you know the pain and discomfort. The look of a hernia can also be disquieting. But you don’t have to live with it, and you can enjoy life again.
The symptoms that lead most people to the doctor, and eventually a hernia diagnosis, typically include pain in the abdomen, particularly in the groin area. The pain tends to get worse if you sneeze, cough, lift something heavy or strain.
But different types of hernia can cause other symptoms. For example, the most common kind of hernia is inguinal, which happens when your intestine bulges through a weak spot in the muscle that usually holds it all in.
Symptoms of inguinal hernia include:
- a bulge that can ache or burn in the area that hurts; if you push on the bulge while laying down, you can usually make it go away
- bending over, coughing and lifting cause pain in the area
- your abdomen can feel heavy and weak or you can even feel pressure
- you might also experience nausea
- men might also feel pain or swelling in the testicles
Generally, hernias aren’t life threatening, but you can develop serious complications. If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should speak with your medical provider right away:
- sudden pain that gets worse quickly
- nausea and vomiting
- discoloration of your hernia bulge, especially red, purple or a general darkening
- constipation or the inability to pass gas
These can all be signs that the blood supply to your hernia has been cut off, which can lead to tissue death if not treated properly.
In children, inguinal hernias are most often seen rather than noticing symptoms. Babies can be born with hernias, which will cause a bulge in the abdomen. The same goes for young children. The hernia will be most noticeable after the child has been standing for a while.
Hernias in women can be tricky to diagnose. Women tend to develop smaller, more internal bulges that don’t show outwardly like they do in men. Without the obvious bulge, hernia pain can be dismissed as ovarian cysts, endometriosis or other gynecologic conditions.
Women are also more likely to develop an umbilical hernia due to pregnancy, labor and childbirth as well as obesity. The good news about umbilical hernias is they are easier than inguinal hernias to diagnose in women. Where inguinal hernias can hide, umbilical hernias hang out by the bellybutton and can cause it to lose shape.