Hernia occurs when an organ or a part of it protrudes through a weak spot or an abnormal opening in a tissue that holds it in place. Hernias are more common in the abdomen, but can also appear in other places like upper part of thigh, umbilicus and groin areas. They themselves are asymptomatic which means that they produce no symptoms or cause slight to severe pain.

Common types of Hernias

Inguinal/Groin Hernia – Inguinal hernias are most common types of hernia. More common in men. Inguinal hernia occurs in the inguinal canal, which corresponds to the groin area, a passage through which testes descend in male. In women inguinal canal contains a ligament that helps to hold uterus in place. The intestines, ovary or a part of the tissue which holds the intestine can herniate through the groin and cause a bulge in the area especially while coughing, sneezing, and straining or any other activity which can increase the intra-abdominal pressure. It may give rise to pain or discomfort. If it gets strangulated there may be severe pain.

Femoral hernia – more common in women, femoral hernia follows femoral canal, a passage through which femoral artery, vein and nerve leave abdominal cavity and enter thigh. Normally it’s a tight place but it may become large enough to allow abdominal contents to pass through it.

Umbilical hernia – appears through a weak spot at umbilicus, most commonly seen at birth. Small hernias (less than half an inch) gradually closes by age of 2. Larger ones which does not close on their own require surgery.
In adults this spot may remain a weak spot and umbilical hernia can appear later in life in these people or in pregnant ladies due to added stress on that area.

Incisional Hernia – abdominal surgery can create a flaw in the abdominal wall. This may create an area of weakness through which a hernia may develop.

Common symptoms of hernia

Common symptom of hernia is bulge in the affected area. In cases of inguinal hernia you may feel a lump on either side of your pubic bone. You can feel the bulge more prominently when you stand up.

If a child has a hernia you may be able to identify it when the child cries. Crying increasing abdominal pressure and makes it prominent.

Hernias can be reducible or irreducible which reflects on its prognosis.

Detection of hernia in an adult can be a sign of malignancy in some cases.

Potential complications

If left untreated, more and more of the tissue becomes herniated and it can become painful. Obstructed hernia can cause severe pain, nausea and constipation. In cases where blood flow gets obstructed strangulation can occur which is a life threatening condition and requires immediate surgery.

Preventing Hernia

You can control muscle weakness by strengthening your muscles through exercises and can reduce the amount of strain on your body.

  • - Quit smoking
  • - See a doctor for persistent cough
  • - Maintain healthy body weight
  • - Avoid straining during bowel movements/urination
  • - Lift objects without putting strain on the back
  • - Avoid lifting heavy weights


It is important to recognise the initial signs of hernia. With early medical care you can minimise the effects of hernia and can avoid life threatening complications like strangulation.

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