A hernia occurs when an internal organ pushes through a weak spot in your muscle or tissue. You may develop a variety of hernias, such as inguinal hernias, femoral hernias, umbilical hernias, and hiatal hernias.

Getting medical attention for a hernia as soon as possible is crucial. To prevent hernias, one must first understand how they develop. 

While some hernias can be avoided, others cannot. Hernias that arise from abdominal surgery and muscle deterioration after birth cannot be avoided. Adults can lower their chance of developing a hernia by not applying excessive abdominal pressure.

In this article, we’ll discuss the causes of hernia, its symptoms, and how you can prevent them.

What Causes a Hernia?

A hernia is caused by weak muscles due to a genetic defect, aging, and constant stress on the groin and abdominal regions. A strain might result from strenuous physical activity, obesity, pregnancy, persistent coughing, or a constipation-related strain. A portion of the intestine or any weak spot in the abdominal muscles may cause it to move from its original position. So the protrusion gets worse as more pressure is applied to the weak spot.

Problems with the inguinal canals, from which the testicles descend before or after birth, can result in inguinal hernias in men. A hernia can develop when the muscles in these canals fail to contract properly, weakening the area.

When the umbilical cord travels through a gap in an infant’s abdominal muscles, it can result in umbilical hernias. Normally, the opening closes shortly after a baby is born. An umbilical hernia may develop at birth or later in life if the muscles in the middle of the abdominal wall don’t fuse properly. Adults who experience excessive abdominal pressure due to obesity, repeated pregnancies, or prior abdominal surgery may develop umbilical hernias.

These are just a couple of the many types of hernia that one can experience. But the cause remains the same – a combination of pressure and weak muscles or tissue gives rise to hernias in different parts of the body. 

The classification of the hernia depends on the region of the body where it has occurred. Continue reading to understand the different types of hernia and the related problems that they carry. 

Types of Hernia

The different types of Hernia are categorized as per their symptoms and signs.

Inguinal Hernia

Inguinal hernias are the most common kind of hernia. 

The inguinal canal is located in the male groin region. It’s the region in men where the spermatic cord connects the scrotum to the abdomen. The testicles are where this rope fastens. The round ligament, found in the inguinal canal in females, aids in holding the uterus in place.

Inguinal hernias occur when a weak area or rip in the lower abdominal wall, frequently in the inguinal canal, is breached by the intestines.

Femoral Hernia

Femoral hernias are more common in women — especially in older women — than in men.

This kind of hernia occurs when a segment of the intestine protrudes into the upper thigh muscle immediately below the groin through a weak spot. A femoral hernia typically manifests as a painful lump that worsens when you exert pressure on the affected area when you stand or bend.

  • Strangulation and incarceration, which happen when the intestine gets stuck in the hernia opening, are risks of femoral hernias.
  • Surgery is typically used to treat femoral hernias, and mesh supports may occasionally be implanted to reinforce and restore the injured area.

Umbilical Hernia

Children and infants are more prone to experience umbilical hernias. They develop when the intestines protrude through the abdominal wall close to the belly button.

If your child is weeping, you might see a bulge in or close to their belly button. Only an umbilical hernia frequently resolves by itself when the abdominal wall muscles get stronger. This usually occurs when the child is one or two years old. If the hernia hasn’t disappeared by the time the child is five, you may opt for surgery.

Epigastric Hernia

Epigastric hernias commonly occur in children when fibrous tissues in the abdomen fail to close as a child develops. The hernia results in a protrusion between the belly button and breastbone. It protrudes and causes more pain when the child exerts pressure on the region when crying or urinating.

Epigastric hernias are typically present at birth. Surgery is required to close the abdominal tissue opening and correct the hernia but is frequently delayed until the kid is a toddler.

Ventral Hernia

When tissue protrudes via a tear in the muscles of your abdomen, it’s known as a ventral hernia. These hernias can occur from birth, but they’re more likely to develop throughout your lifetime.

  • A ventral hernia could seem to get smaller when you’re lying down as the pressure is reduced. 
  • The hernia gets worse when performing activities that put a strain on the abdominal area. 
  • Obesity, pregnancy, and intense activity are all common causes of ventral hernias.

Incisional Hernia

An incisional hernia develops through an abdominal surgery scar. A bulge is typically caused when an abdominal organ, most frequently the colon or intestine, pushes through the area weakened by the surgery.

Substantial weight gain or pregnancy following abdominal surgery is a major risk factor for incisional hernias. Incisional hernias are easier to identify when you stand rather than when you lie down. It can be especially uncomfortable while performing activities that strain the intestinal region like when passing urine or stools. 

An incisional hernia can be managed with a special belt known as a truss, but you may require surgery, typically done laparoscopically, to address it permanently.

Hernia Symptoms

A hernia’s most prevalent symptom is an unsightly lump or bulge in the affected area. The lump or protrusion can be pushed back in or go away entirely. The lump will resurface when sobbing, laughing, coughing, straining while passing stools, or engaging in physical activity.

It’s generally believed that men are more likely than women to develop hernias as a result of their propensity for excessive lifting. The severity of the symptoms and excessive pain are more common in men than in women.

Femoral and umbilical hernias are more noticeable in women. Since the abdominal muscles are not strong enough to stop the intestinal portion from protruding, hernias in the abdomen and waist regions are more frequent and easy to identify.

For instance, if you have an inguinal hernia, you can easily identify it as a bump where your groin and thigh connect on either side of your pubic bone.

Hernia symptoms and potential signs include the following:

  • Swelling or protrusion of the scrotum (the pouch that contains the testicles): If the hernia is close to the groin area, it may also prevent you from getting an erection.
  • Bulge: A bulge forms under the skin of the stomach wall as a result of the hole or split in the abdomen, forcing its contents —  fat, intestines, and other organs — through it. The location of the hernia and the abdominal contents that have been pushed into the hernia determine the size of the bulge.
  • Constant pain: In a hernia, the tissue surrounding the region has been stretched and ripped, causing considerable discomfort. A hernia’s surrounding nerve damage may also produce pain. Additionally, if the hernia’s contents become trapped, blood flow will also be cut off, which will cause a shortage of oxygen and blood, progressive tissue death, and excruciating pain.
  • Urinary infection: If hernias occur in the bladder, they may cause urinary infections, a burning sensation when urinating, bladder stones, and frequent urination. 
  • Vomiting: Vomiting may result from the hernia choking off blood and food flow through the confined intestine. Furthermore, if only a portion of the intestine is obstructed, it could lead to poor appetite.
  • Constipation: The familiar passage of food is substantially obstructed if even a small portion of the intestine is caught in the hernia. This could cause discomfort and constipation.
  • Swelling and pain in the testicles: The most conspicuous indication of hernias is inflammation around the bulge. The injured tissues around the abdominal opening cause swelling.

Many other symptoms such as heartburn, signs of intestinal blockage, feelings of extreme fullness, etc. are also major hernia symptoms that can’t be overlooked.

There are no visible bodily bulges in the case of hiatal hernias. Instead, chest pain, frequent regurgitation (bringing food back up), difficulty with swallowing, and heartburn may be present.

Furthermore, hernias often have no symptoms. Unless they manifest during a standard medical examination for an unrelated issue, you might not be aware you have a hernia.

Hernias can develop from birth due to the diaphragm not forming properly, which leads to congenital diaphragmatic hernia. Your stomach may be able to fit into your chest as a result.

Doctors usually discover this condition during childbirth. Sometimes, however, some go undiscovered until much later in life.

In extreme circumstances, the stomach may enclose your heart and lungs in your chest cavity. The diaphragm can be surgically repaired to prevent further issues, such as breathing difficulties, from occurring.

Hernias don’t disappear by themselves, except in the case of umbilical hernias. Furthermore, it can enlarge and become darker and more painful if you don’t address it immediately.

10 Tips to Prevent Hernia

It’s impossible to avoid congenital abnormality predisposing some people to an inguinal or umbilical hernia. The most frequent type of hernia, non-congenital hernia, can be avoided by taking certain precautions.

Here are 10 tips that’ll help you prevent hernias.

1. Get Enough of the Right Exercise

Overweight or obese individuals have a higher risk of developing a hernia. This is because whether you stand or move about, the abdominal wall is constantly under strain from the excess weight. 

Modify your diet and commit to daily exercise to prevent hernias. This can help you lose excess weight, which is a major risk factor for the condition.

Low-impact exercises like walking or biking are a fantastic place to start your fitness regimen. Then, gradually switch your attention to developing the core muscles.

2. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight

Extra body weight can put a lot of strain on the abdomen, weakening it over time. The walls surrounding the abdomen are under constant strain from extra weight whether you stand or move. 

Additionally, being overweight might increase the strain on other muscle groups during exercise and movement. Though it may seem difficult, ask your doctor to suggest food changes and exercise regimens suited to your body type.

3. Incorporate High-Fiber Foods Into Your Diet

Fiber helps food in the intestine pass through easily and with less strain. Consuming a high-fiber diet or incorporating fiber supplements such as psyllium-containing laxatives promotes regular bowel movement and reduces stress during the process.

Keep a close check on how much water you consume each day. Consume 1.5 to 2 liters of water every day. 

Include the following high-fiber foods in your diet regularly: 

  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Legumes

4. Avoid Constipation

Persistent constipation is a major risk factor for a hernia. Consuming high-fiber foods encourage regular bowel movements, hence reducing constipation. Fortunately, there are several home remedies to cure constipation

  • Water
  • Regular exercise
  • Coffee
  • Probiotics
  • Laxatives
  • Low FODMAP diet
  • Glucomannan
  • Prebiotics
  • Magnesium citrate

Consuming these home remedies and over-the-top medications can help reduce pressure and allow strain-free bowel movements. 

5. Avoid Lifting Heavy Weights

Every time someone picks up a heavy object, they risk developing an inguinal hernia. You can reduce risk and fatigue by using suitable lifting techniques.

Never lift more than you can handle. 

Get assistance, use a hand truck or forklift, or lighten the weight if it’s too heavy. 

Always squat to pick up something rather than bending at the waist.

Lift while maintaining a straight spine and sufficient support over your ankles. 

Lift the weight slowly to ensure your body is correctly positioned. 

If you experience pain, stop immediately. 

Before engaging in any heavy lifting, athletes should warm up with light dumbbells or cardio. Always begin a set of barbell exercises with only the bar to promote blood flowing and warm up your muscles.

6. Stop Smoking

Smoking increases the risk of developing a hernia. Smokers and those with tobacco-related illnesses are troubled by persistent, violent coughing, which can hasten the formation of hernias.

Active smokers have a greater hernia risk than nonsmokers. By limiting cell growth, smoking prevents cell development and wound healing around the abdomen. 

Additionally, the nicotine in cigarettes can weaken your abdomen lining, which may eventually cause an organ to protrude from its original position. Also, toxins may build up in the lungs, resulting in a persistent cough.

7. Increase Core Strength

Increasing core strength can help prevent a hernia in numerous ways. The term “core” refers to the minor muscles, gluteus maximus and trapezius, and the main muscles of the pelvic and abdominal region, including the pelvic floor and oblique muscles.

Your abdominal and groin muscles will develop strength and elasticity with regular core-strengthening exercises.

8. Control Diabetes

Diabetes management is crucial for preventing hernias. Recent investigations have revealed a growing concern regarding diabetic women’s ability to heal their ventral and umbilical hernias successfully. According to some studies, diabetes raises the possibility of problems after ventral (at the surgical scar site) or umbilical (at the navel or belly button) hernia repairs. 

Results showed that problems were more common in insulin-dependent people. Follow your doctor’s instructions to manage your diabetes with the right medication.

Additionally, you can control your blood sugar levels by improving your meal preparation, eating foods with fewer calories, and consuming less trans fat, sugar, and salt.  Whole-grain pasta, bread, rice, and cereal are also better options to keep your blood glucose in check.

9. Check if You Have an Enlarged Prostate

When you strain while urinating due to an enlarged prostate, the pressure in the abdomen may elevate. Urination at least twice a night, attempting to make your urine flow more quickly, and straining to unload your bladder after urinating all indicate an enlarged prostate. 

The enlarged prostate can be an indication of a hernia. Preventing any sort of injury or pressure to the prostate/scrotum will reduce the chance of a hernia for men. 

10. Immediately Treat Persistent Coughing or Sneezing

When you have an infection or other ailments like asthma, it’s crucial to get it under control because coughing or sneezing can lead to a hernia or aggravate an existing one.

Controlling allergy-related sneezing is important since it can lead to increased stomach pressure.

The risk of hernia increases with other health conditions that cause excessive strain, such as significant weight gain or constipation. 

Therefore, if you have been ill with any chronic illnesses, seek medical attention immediately. These are common signs of a far more serious medical condition. Get in contact with a medical expert right away.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hernia

What Is the Main Cause of Hernia?

The main cause of hernia is pressure and weakness or opening in muscle tissues or fascia. The pressure causes an organ or tissue to bulge through the weakness or opening.

Though it more frequently occurs later in life, muscle weakness is often present from birth. A hernia can be caused by anything that increases the abdominal pressure, such as lifting bulky objects, constipation or diarrhea, and continual sneezing or coughing. Smoking, poor nutrition, and obesity can also weaken muscles and increase the risk of hernias.

Are there Exercises to Prevent Hernias?

Yes, there are several exercises to prevent hernia. If you wish to lower your chances of developing a hernia, some forms of exercise are preferable to others. Cycling, yoga, pilates, sit-ups, mild weightlifting, and aerobic exercises are all excellent options. Anything that strengthens your core will be beneficial. Squats and leaping exercises should be avoided, as should overdoing them when working out.

Do Strong Abs Prevent Hernia?

Yes, strong abs prevent hernia. The best way to prevent a hernia is to have a strong core. Since hernias are most frequently brought on by weak abs and being overweight, reducing your weight and getting stronger abs can not only reduce the risk but also give you a lean body and prevent other health conditions as well. Exercise essentials should include leg lifts, crunches, and planks.

But be sure to not exert yourself or you risk developing a hernia due to the workout. 

Can Hernias be Cured on Their Own?

No, hernias can’t be cured on their own. If they’re not addressed, the damaged organ or tissue could get trapped behind the muscle and stop receiving blood. This is called strangulation; it can kill or infect the tissue, posing major health risks to the body.

So, if you think you may have a hernia, seek medical attention immediately. Hernia symptoms include sharp, intense stomach pain, nausea, and constipation. They can also result in pain and edema in the vicinity of the affected area.

What are the First Signs of a Hernia?

The inner tissue that’s pushed through the muscle breach when a hernia first develops is typically fat. However, a portion of the bowel may poke its head through the incision. Although the chances of this are extremely low, if it does occur, it requires urgent care.

A painful bulge that doesn’t shrink when you rest, and worsening pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation, bloating, racing heartbeat, or fever are the initial hernia symptoms, indicating you should see a doctor right away.

How do I Check Myself for a Hernia?

Once the hernia symptoms start showing up, you should consult professional help.

Unfortunately, many patients wait until they are in great pain or discomfort or the hernia has progressed quite far before seeking expert assistance.

Hernias never heal on their own and typically worsen over time. The longer you wait, the fewer surgical alternatives you’ll have left.

Hernias can be treated with minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery if they’re found early. Generally speaking, this has fewer difficulties and is easier to recover from than open surgery. If therapy is postponed, open surgery will be the only option.

Can Hernias be Caused by Stress?

Your health is impacted by stress on both an emotional and physical level. The main factor affecting hernias is physical stress. Hernias occur when organs or tissue protrudes through a weak area in the muscular wall, and the likelihood of developing one rises with strain.

Hernias may be more common in people who perform strenuous lifting or repetitive motions that strain the lower body. Stress can worsen and enlarge hernias already present.

Keep in mind that hernias never go away on their own. Hernia surgery is the only way to permanently fix it, even if you manage your lifestyle to keep it from getting worse.

How Long Can You Live With a Hernia?

Some people can live their entire lives with a hernia, while others experience a hernia-related emergency only a few months after their first one appears. So, it’s uncertain how long you can live with a hernia as it entirely depends on individual health and the type of hernia they have.

Prevent Hernias, Get the Right Care

A hernia may not seem as much as first but is an extensively debilitating condition if left untreated. The internal organs, typically the intestine, that move into the hernia can lead to complications that may even be fatal. From this blog, you will be able to identify and treat all the different types of hernias. You even know the right type of dietary consistency to avoid the occurrence of a hernia. 

But in case you ever are affected by this condition, you need to seek immediate medical attention and receive the right care to avoid further complications. If you have felt any discomfort relating to a hernia, contact Ayu Health, the best hospital in Bangalore, and we’ll provide you instant attention and extensive care to cure the hernia. We have the best doctors and staff, guaranteeing the best treatment and post-treatment care. Get in touch with us today.

About the Author

Dr goel
Dr. S. Goel
MBBS PGDCM FID MBAHHM at Ayu Health | Website | + posts

Dr. S. Goel  is a renowned Internal Medicine Specialist currently practicing at Ayu Health Hospital, Bangalore.  He is a Specialist in Internal Medicine, Diabetes HTN, Paediatric Care, and Family Medicine.