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Definition

A hernia is a condition most frequently encountered in the abdomen or around the groin where an organ or tissue squeezes and breaks through a weak opening in a surrounding muscle or connective tissue resulting in a localised bulge of pain and discomfort.

There are different kinds of hernia and while most of them are not life threatening, they can be painful to manage, as they do not heal on their own and require corrective surgery to avoid complications.

Symptoms

  • In case of adults, feel/notice a bulge or a lump through touch
  • Experience chest pain and discomfort like acid reflux, gurgling and difficulty in swallowing
  • Pain, heaviness and weakness in the affected area - while bending, coughing or lifting weights
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • In case of babies, feel/notice a hernia in babies when he or she is crying

Sometimes, hernias come without any warning and symptoms until it shows up in a medical examination.

Risk Factors

  • Genetics - history of hernia in the family or in the past
  • Obesity and weight issues
  • Heavy lifting without stabilizing muscles in the abdomen
  • Smoking which can lead to chronic cough
  • Chronic cough and sneezing which refuses to heal
  • Chronic diarrhoea or constipation
  • Cystic fibrosis which can impair proper functioning of the lungs thus leading to chronic cough

Diagnosis

  • Physical examination usually confirms the diagnosis.
  • Some hernias require a CT scan or X-rays
  • Endoscopy in case of stomach complications

Treatment

  • Surgery under anaesthesia - Hernia surgery is decided based on the extent of the emergency and the choice of the patient. It can be laparoscopic or an open procedure called herniorrhaphy.
  • Medications, controlled diet, lifestyle changes, and weight loss definitely control symptoms and minimize the need for surgery.
 
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