Types of hernias and what symptoms to look for

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A hernia occurs when an organ, typically the intestine, bulges through the muscle layer that usually keeps it in.

Picture it like this: You hold in your hand a water balloon. Wrap your hands around a small part of the balloon a nd you’ll create a pocket of water. By changing the pressure of your grip, you can make the pocket larger or smaller. Now, apply that idea to a hernia, only your body won’t resolve the issue on its own, like you can by releasing the balloon.

This can cause pain, especially in the groin area, as well as a lump. Over time, the hernia is not likely to heal itself and can cause pain when lifting, swelling and even a sense of being full or signs of a bowel obstruction.

There are many types of hernias, but the most common ones are inguinal and femoral. Approximately 75 to 80 percent of all diagnosed hernias are these two types. Others include incisional, ventral, umbilical and hiatal.

With the more uncommon hernias, some people might also experience:

  • heartburn
  • frequent vomiting
  • indigestion
  • difficulty swallowing
  • chest pain

If left untreated, hernias can grow and become more painful. The bulge in your abdomen may become larger as more of the intestine makes its way out the weak spot in your muscle wall.

Inguinal and femoral hernia complications can occur when left untreated. In addition to increasing pain, your intestine could become blocked, which is called an obstruction. Nausea, vomiting and stomach pain are all signs you have something stuck and should get it checked right away.

Another complication of an untreated hernia is strangulation and is an emergency. Strangulation is when the tissue creating the bulge outside the muscle wall loses blood supply and is in danger of dying. Blood supply must be restored or you risk losing that part of your intestine.

You don’t have to live with the pain, though. Talk with your physician and a surgeon to find the right treatment option for you. There are several ways to repair a hernia surgically, so depending on the severity of your condition, your surgeon can find the right option for you.

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