What are the types of hernia?
A hernia appears when a part of tissue or organ bulges through a weak point in the body.
The following are some of the most common hernia types:
- Epigastric hernia: An epigastric hernia occurs in the epigastric region of the abdomen, which is a centrally located area above the belly button and just below the ribcage. Patients present with a feeling of increased pressure on the abdominal wall, especially while coughing, laughing, or passing stools. They may also have pain or tenderness in and around the epigastric region.
- Femoral hernia: A femoral hernia occurs when body tissue pushes through a weak point in the groin/inner thigh. It presents as a small- to medium-sized lump in the groin. Femoral hernias occur more commonly in women than in men. Important blood vessels, the femoral artery, and femoral vein lie close to the hernia, raising medical concerns. The hernia could compress the blood vessels and reduce blood flow to and from the leg. Hence, early surgical intervention is required.
- Hiatal hernia: A hiatal hernia occurs when part of the upper portion of the stomach bulges through a weak point in the diaphragm, a thin muscle that separates the lungs from the abdominal organs. Patients typically present with acid reflux and the severity may vary with the type of hiatal hernia. There are four types of Hiatal hernias, type I to IV, based on where they are located. Type I is the most common (95%). In type I, the stomach remains in anatomical position but not at the part where the esophagus meets the stomach slides above the diaphragm. This can usually be managed conservatively.
- Incisional hernia: An incisional hernia usually occurs after surgery, typically a stomach surgery, involving an incision over the middle of the stomach, such as cesarean delivery (C section). If the surgical wound does not heal properly or creates a weak point, it can lead to incisional hernia. Sometimes an incisional hernia is called a ventral hernia. Any type pf hernia that occurs in the midline of the stomach is called a ventral hernia, irrespective of the cause. Hence, not all ventral hernias are incisional hernias.
- Inguinal hernia: An inguinal hernia occurs when a part of the intestine or fat around the intestine bulges through a weak point in the lower abdominal wall. Sometimes lower abdominal organs like parts of the female reproductive organs can also bulge through the weak point. Inguinal hernias commonly present on the right side. They are more common in men than in women. In men, an inguinal hernia can cause a bulge in the groin and scrotum. Sometimes, it may be difficult to distinguish between a femoral and inguinal hernia.
- Umbilical hernia: An umbilical hernia occurs when body tissues bulge through an area of weakness in the umbilicus (belly button area). This hernia presents with a visible bulge in or around the umbilicus that usually worsens while coughing or straining during a bowel movement. An umbilical hernia can also occur in infants (babies).
What is a hernia?
A hernia appears when a part of tissue or organ bulges through a weak point in the body. There are various types of hernia occurring in different parts of the body. The signs, symptoms, and complications vary with each type of hernia and the severity of the hernia.
Do hernias require treatment?
Hernias may be asymptomatic in the initial stages. However, hernias can become strangulated and cause tissue death.
- A strangulated hernia is a medical emergency because the part of the body tissue or organ bulging is cut off from its blood supply.
- Hernias do not usually resolve on their own. Surgical intervention is required for a complete cure. In the initial stages, doctors may advise observation and follow-up, but surgery is recommended when the hernia is noticeable to prevent worsening or strangulation.
When to see a doctor?
It is advised to seek immediate medical attention in the presence of the following symptoms:
- Sudden and severe pain at the hernia site
- Warmth, tenderness, and change in color at the hernia site
- Issue with passing gas
Can hernias be prevented?
Most types of hernia can’t be prevented. The following tips may help prevent hernias in some cases:
- Maintaining a healthy body weight, which decreases abdominal wall pressure.
- Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol.
- Avoiding heavy lifting and straining while exercising.
- Correcting chronic constipation to prevent straining during bowel movements. Eating a high-fiber diet and drinking plenty of fluids can help improve constipation, if not, seeking medical attention is required.
- Seeking medical attention to treat chronic cough.