A hernia occurs when soft tissue protrudes through a weak point in the lining of the abdomen wall. This is a common problem that can range from being harmless and pain-free, to severely painful and even life-threatening.
Although there are several types of hernias, inguinal (groin) hernias make up 75% of all abdominal wall hernias. If you’re a male, you’re 25 times more likely to get an inguinal hernia than a female, and your chances of developing an an inguinal hernia also grow if you’re over the age of 40.
Any condition that increases the pressure in your abdomen can cause a hernia or make it worse. This includes obesity, heavy lifting, coughing, straining during bowl movement, chronic lung disease, or fluid in the abdominal cavity. You’re also more likely to get a hernia if someone in your family has had one.
The most typical sign of a hernia is a bulge under your skin in the groin or abdomen area. However, you may not have any symptoms or even know you have a hernia until your doctor finds one during a routine exam.
Signs and Symptoms of an inguinal hernia:
– A bulge under your skin on either side of your pubic bone
– Achy and/or burning bulge – but not tender to the touch
– A heavy feeling in the abdomen sometimes accompanied by constipation or blood in the stool
– Pain before the discovery of the lump
– Increases in size with increased abdominal pressure (like when coughing or standing)
– You can push the bulge back into your abdomen when lying down
Unfortunately, a hernia won’t go away on its own and could potentially lead to major complications. If you can’t push your hernia back in place, a loop of one of your intestines may be trapped (incarcerated) in the abdominal wall, cutting off blood supply to the intestine. This condition is much more serious and could be life threatening if left untreated.
Signs and Symptoms of an incarcerated hernia:
– A painful enlargement of a hernia that you could previouly push back in
– Some may be chronic without pain
– Sudden pain that quickly intensifies
– Pain intensifies when you bend over, crouch, or stand
If you suspect you might be suffering from a hernia, it’s recommended to visit the doctor as soon as possible. Seek immediate medical care if a hernia bulge turns red, purple or dark, as you are probably suffering from an incarcerated hernia. Strangulation can lead to the death of the intestine in as little as 6 hours.
This video produced by the UK’s National Health Service shows anatomical illustrations of hernias and surgical repair: