“Hernia can be life-threatening”

Hernia is caused by a combination of pressure and an opening in the muscle/connective tissue. The pressure pushes an organ or tissue through the opening or weak spot, causing it to bulge out. It usually occurs due to a weakness in the muscular structure of the wall of the abdomen. Hernia can be life threatening. If the neck of the herniated sac is obstructed, blood supply to the distal part would be cut short. This would result in gangrene of the herniated part, which is a surgical emergency.

Activities that raise the pressure inside the abdomen, like lifting a heavy weight, straining to have a bowel movement, sneezing or even coughing makes the hernia more noticeable. The intra-abdominal pressure could be raised for a longer duration through conditions like chronic cough, pregnancy, accumulation of fluid in the abdomen and malignancies inside the abdomen. All that bulges against the abdominal wall is not hernia though; lymph nodes and some tumours of the abdominal wall could also be guilty.

Hernias are commonly located at the sites prone to medical weakness either because of some muscle weakness, or due to acquired conditions. Depending on the organs involved in causing the disorder, there can be many different types of hernia.

The most common site is the groin and a hernia there is called inguinal hernia. The intestine or the bladder could protrude through the abdominal wall or into the inguinal canal in the groin. Femoral hernia is a bulge in the upper part of the thigh, just below the groin, where the femoral artery and vein pass.

There is a hernia that affects newborns too, called umbilical hernia, where part of the small intestine passes through the abdominal wall near the navel. Another unusual but common type is hiatus hernia, in which there is no exterior bulge. A portion of stomach protrudes upward into the chest, through an opening in the diaphragm.

Surgery is the only definitive treatment for hernia, though all hernias do not warrant immediate surgery. The ones which are large and become irreducible need immediate attention and the patient should see a surgeon at the earliest. With lesser cutting and equal precision, laparoscopic surgery has practically replaced conventional hernia surgical techniques over the last few decades. Consult a specialist at Nova Speciality Hospitals to get any doubtful bulges checked and also to get it removed as part of their Day Surgery Program.

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