In the human body, every organ is in an empty space or cavity. If an organ protrudes from the cavity, you have a hernia, a condition that is usually not life-threatening and sometimes goes away on its own. Usually, hernias occur in the abdominal area (in the area between the chest and waist), with 75%-80% of cases occurring in the groin area. Most likely, a person will develop a hernia as they get older, and surgery will be more risky as you get older. There are several types of hernias, and each requires specific treatment, so it's important to prepare yourself with this knowledge.
Method 1 of 4: Recognizing the Symptoms of a Hernia
Step 1. Assess your risk factors
While hernias can happen to anyone, certain factors in your life can put you at high risk for hernias. This condition may be chronic, or it may resolve over time. For example, when you have a bad cough. Risk factors for hernias include:
- increased pressure in the abdomen,
- lifting heavy weights,
- getting old,
- steroid use.
Step 2. Watch for any lumps
Hernia is an imperfect condition of the muscle container of an organ. Due to this imperfection, the organ protrudes, and this is what gives rise to a hernia. When these organs protrude, there will be a swollen area or lump on the skin. Hernias often enlarge when you stand or strain. The location of the swelling area varies depending on the type of hernia you have. The term for different types of hernia refers to the location or cause of the hernia.
- Inguinal: hernia that arises in the inguinal (between the hipbone and groin) or groin
- Umbilical: hernia that arises around the navel
- Femoral: hernia that arises along the inner thigh
- Incisional: a hernia that arises due to an incision from a previous surgery that creates a weak spot in the muscle vessel of the organ
- Diaphragmatic or hiatal: hernia arising from birth defects in the diaphragm.
Step 3. Watch for symptoms of vomiting
If the hernia impacts your intestines, it will alter or even block the flow of food through the digestive system. This can cause pooling of the intestines and will result in nausea and vomiting. If your intestines are not completely blocked, you may experience only mild symptoms, such as nausea without vomiting or loss of appetite.
Step 4. Watch for symptoms of constipation
You may experience constipation if you have an inguinal or low femoral hernia. In a simple sense, constipation is the opposite of vomiting. When the flow of feces is blocked, you will experience constipation. So instead of all out, the dirt remains in your intestines. No need to explain, these symptoms certainly require immediate surgery.
A hernia can be very serious if it affects your body's function to survive. If you experience constipation, see a doctor immediately
Step 5. Don't ignore the unnatural feeling of fullness
Many people with hernias do not experience pain and do not experience any severe or noticeable symptoms. However, they feel heaviness and flatulence in the affected area, especially in the lower abdomen. You might think that it's just bloating. At the very least, you'll feel pain in your lower abdomen, whether it's a feeling of fullness, weakness, or just a strange pressure. You can relieve the "bloating" from a hernia by resting in a lying position.
Step 6. Keep track of your pain level
Although not always present, pain is a sign of a hernia condition, especially if complications occur. The swelling may cause a burning sensation or a stabbing pain. The increasing pressure can cause extreme pain which indicates that the hernia is touching the muscle wall. These are the various types of pain that result from hernias in varying degrees:
- Reduced hernia, which is a hernia that can not return to its normal level, but is getting bigger: you will feel pain that comes and goes.
- A pinched hernia, which is a swollen organ that loses its blood supply and can lead to death without immediate treatment: you will feel extreme pain in this case, along with dizziness, vomiting, fever, difficulty defecating. This condition requires immediate surgery.
- Hiatal hernia, where the stomach swells from its cavity and causes pain in the chest: This will also affect the flow of food, reduce acid and eventually difficulty swallowing.
- Untreated hernias, as they may not cause pain and symptoms: These can cause pain and other health problems.
Step 7. Know when you should see a doctor
All cases of hernia have the potential to be dangerous. If you suspect you have a hernia, you need to see a doctor immediately for an evaluation. The doctor will examine whether or not you have a hernia, and will also discuss the level of risk and treatment options.
If you know for sure that you have a hernia and feel a sudden throbbing or pain in the area, go to the emergency department immediately. Hernias can become "pinched" and cut off the blood supply, which is very dangerous
Method 2 of 4: Understanding the Risk Factors
Step 1. Consider your gender
Men are more likely to have a hernia than women. According to research, although the hernia may be present from birth (because it is common in newborns) it mostly occurs in male babies. The same goes for adults! Men have a greater risk of hernias, which is often referred to as "downhill". This occurs because of the "descending" condition in men in the inguinal canal, which occurs before the birth process. The male inguinal canal (which holds the vein that connects it to the testes) usually closes after birth. In some cases, these canals do not close properly, leading to the possibility of a hernia.
Step 2. Know your family history of hernias
If you have a family member with a history of hernia, you have the same risk. Some hereditary disorders affect the connective tissue and muscles, causing you to develop a hernia. Always remember that the possibility of heredity is due to hereditary defects. In general, there is no known genetic pattern for hernias.
If you have had a hernia in the past, you have a high risk of having it again in the future
Step 3. Consider the condition of your lungs
Cystic fibrosis (threat of death due to lung conditions) is a condition where the amount of mucus that clogs in the lungs. Patients with this condition will experience a chronic cough because the body is trying to expel the blocked mucus. Increased pressure from coughing is a risk factor for hernias. Coughing like this creates a strong pressure and forces your lungs to damage the muscle walls. The patient feels pain and discomfort when coughing.
Smokers also have a high risk of developing a chronic cough, and are also more likely to develop a hernia
Step 4. Watch for chronic constipation
Constipation forces you to put pressure on your lower abdominal muscles in the process of passing stool during a bowel movement. If your lower abdominal muscles are weak and you are constantly straining, you may have a hernia.
- Weak muscles are caused by a poor diet, lack of exercise, and advancing age.
- Straining while urinating is also at risk of causing a hernia.
Step 5. Know that you are at risk for a hernia while pregnant
The baby growing in the womb puts intense pressure on your lower abdomen. Your lower abdomen also bears an increasing burden, which is a risk factor for hernias.
- Babies born prematurely are also at risk for hernias because the muscles and body tissues are not strong enough and have not been fully formed.
- Genital defects in babies can press on areas that have the potential to grow hernias. These include abnormal positioning of the urinary tract in the genitals, fluid in the testicles, and double sex (in babies who have both male and female genitals).
Step 6. Try to keep your weight at a healthy level
People who are obese or overweight are more likely to have a hernia. Just like pregnant women, a large belly puts more stress on the lower abdomen, which can weaken the muscles around it. If you are overweight, you are advised to start a weight loss program now.
Beware of large and drastic weight loss due to a very strict diet program. This diet program will weaken the muscles and cause hernias as well. If you are trying to lose weight, do it healthily and gradually
Step 7. Consider whether your job is the cause
You are at risk for a hernia if you have to stand for long periods of time at work and use physical force frequently. Some people who are at risk for hernias due to work are construction workers, salespeople, carpenters, etc. If this is similar to your current job, discuss the risks with your boss. You can try different situations to lower your risk of hernia.
Method 3 of 4: Identifying Your Type of Hernia
Step 1. Understand how doctors diagnose hernias
During a physical exam to find a hernia, your doctor will usually tell you to stand up. When the doctor examines the swollen area, you will be asked to cough, strain, or do other movements that you can. The doctor will evaluate flexibility and movement in the area where a hernia is suspected. After the examination, the doctor will diagnose whether you have a hernia or not, and what type of hernia you have.
Step 2. Identify the type of inguinal hernia
This is a common type of hernia and occurs when the bowel or bladder pushes against the lower abdominal wall into the groin and inguinal canal. In men, these tubes hold the veins that connect the testicles, and hernias are usually caused by a natural weakness in the tubes. In women, the canal holds the large muscles that hold the uterus in place. There are two types of inguinal hernia: direct and indirect (the latter is more common).
- Direct inguinal hernia: Place your finger in the inguinal canal, which is the fold of the pelvis near the leg. You will feel a bulge coming out towards the front of your body, which will enlarge when you cough.
- Indirect inguinal hernia: When you touch the inguinal canal, you will feel a lump from the outside towards the middle of your body (from the side to the center). These lumps also move down towards the pubic sac.
Step 3. Be aware of the possibility of a hiatal hernia in those over 50 years of age
A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of your abdomen presses through an opening in the diaphragm and then into your chest. This type of hernia usually occurs in those over the age of 50. If a child has a hiatal hernia, it may be due to a birth defect.
- The diaphragm is a thin layer of muscle that helps you breathe. This body part also serves to separate the organs in the lower abdomen and chest.
- This type of hernia causes a burning sensation in the abdomen, chest pain, and difficulty swallowing.
Step 4. Find the umbilical hernia in the baby
Although they occur later, umbilical hernias usually occur in newborns or infants under six months of age. This hernia occurs when the intestine protrudes from the lower abdominal wall near the navel. This lump will be seen especially when the child is crying.
- In an umbilical hernia, you will see a lump in the umbilicus (navel).
- Umbilical hernias usually go away on their own. But if it's still there until the child is 5-6 years old and gets bigger or causes symptoms, surgery is needed.
- Take note of the size. Small umbilical hernias measure about 1.25 cm and can go away on their own. Large umbilical hernias require surgery.
Step 5. Be aware of the incisional hernia after surgery
The incision made during surgery takes time to heal completely. It also takes time for the surrounding muscles to recover their strength. If organ tissue is pushed out of the incision before it heals, an incisional hernia will occur. This condition is common in overweight and elderly patients.
Place it gently but lightly press the surgical site with your finger. You will feel a lump around the area
Step 6. Identify femoral hernias in women
Femoral hernias can occur in both men and women, but most cases occur in women because of the wide shape of the pelvis. Within the pelvis, there is a channel that carries arteries, blood vessels, and nerves to the inner upper thigh. This duct is usually a narrow space, but often enlarges if the woman is pregnant or obese. When stretched, these canals become weak, and eventually become prone to hernias.
Method 4 of 4: Treating Hernias
Step 1. Report acute pain immediately
If the symptoms of a hernia appear suddenly, the first thing your doctor will do is relieve your pain. To relieve a hernia, the doctor will first try to physically push the hernia back into its original position. This can reduce acute swelling and provide additional time to prepare for surgical procedures in the area. A pinched hernia needs to be followed up immediately to avoid dead blood tissue and leaking organ tissue.
Step 2. Consider elective surgery
While the hernia may be very dangerous, your doctor may recommend elective surgery to restore it before it progresses to a more dangerous level. Studies have shown that elective surgery reduces the risk of morbidity and mortality significantly.
Step 3. Be aware of the potential results
Depending on the type of hernia and the patient's condition, there is a high chance that the hernia will recur.
- Groin hernia in children: These hernias have a low chance of recurrence (less than 3% after surgery). Hernias in children sometimes even heal spontaneously on their own.
- Groin hernia in adults: Depending on how experienced the surgeon is in performing this hernia surgery, the chance of recurrence after surgery is about 0-10%.
- Incisional hernia: About 3%-5% of patients have hernia recurrence after the first surgery. If the incisional hernia enlarges, the patient may experience recurrence at a risk rate of approximately 20%-60%.
- Umbilical hernia in children: This type of hernia usually resolves spontaneously on its own.
- Umbilical hernia in adults: There is a greater chance of recurrence of umbilical hernia in adults. Typically, a patient faces a hernia recurrence rate of up to about 11% after surgery.
Avoid lifting heavy objects, coughing too hard, or bending over if you think you have a hernia
- See a doctor immediately if you think you have a hernia. This can be a serious problem. Signs of a pinched hernia include nausea, vomiting, or both, fever, a fast heart rate, sudden pain that quickly gets worse, or a herniated lump that is red, purplish, or dark in color.
- Treatment for acute hernia cases usually has a lower chance of survival and higher morbidity than elective treatment for hernias.