A hernia is a noticeable bulge which can develop between the stomach and pelvis. It occurs when a weakness in the abdominal muscle wall allow organs to protrude, and a lump appears.
This bulge is the most common symptom of a hernia. Occasionally, there is no pain or discomfort, but over time the hernia can grow to become very painful and dangerous. Since hernias are a common occurrence, let’s review common hernia symptoms and when to seek treatment for them.
Characteristics of Hernias
Most people are aware that they have a hernia even without a significant bulge. They feel a discomfort or become aware that “something’s there.” It becomes more noticeable when they stand or sit for long periods of time. It can be painful when they cough or lift something heavy.
A majority of hernia cases are caused by stress, a weak abdominal wall, strenuous activity, chronic sneezing and coughing, difficulty urinating or moving bowels, and pregnancy.
Many physicians elect to watch and wait after a hernia is diagnosed as long as it is small and there are no real symptoms. Surgery to repair this abnormality in the abdominal wall will usually need to be discussed once the hernia reaches a certain size.
Types of Hernias
There are three main types of hernias.
Inguinal hernias occur when tissue from the intestine protrudes through a weakened area in the abdominal muscles. This area, known as the inguinal canal, is the namesake for this particular type of hernia.
Incisional hernias occur when tissue or an organ protrudes through scar tissue or an incision from a previous surgical procedure.
Umbilical hernias occur when part of the intestine or abdominal tissue protrude out near the naval.
Hernia Symptoms and When to Seek Treatment
There are some red flags to watch for when you have a hernia. If you experience any of these, ask your doctor to refer you to Dr. Sasche or Dr. Pullarkat to explore surgical options:
- You are unable to gently push the hernia back into place.
- You have pain with nausea and vomiting. If you can’t pass gas or have a bowel movement, as this could be a strangulated hernia or an obstruction.
- If there is severe pain and redness at the site of a hernia.
- Bloating, constipation, and abdominal cramps signal a possible obstruction of the intestines. Seek immediate treatment before an infection develops requiring emergency surgical intervention.
Better Safe Than Sorry
Do not wait to seek treatment if you suspect you may have a hernia, even if your symptoms are minor or non-existent. Make an appointment to see your doctor to fully evaluate your symptoms and potential treatment options and refer you to one of our surgeons.