Hernia

September 19, 2008

A few of my friends and cousins were operated in their school age for either hernia or appendicitis. It was as if these two were in vogue at that time. As a child, I did not understand the difference between two as they seemed to occur almost in the same area of the body, the abdomen.

What is Hernia?

Wikipedia describes hernia thus: “A hernia is a protrusion of a tissue, structure, or part of an organ through the muscular tissue or the membrane by which it is normally contained.” In simple words, a hernia is the bulging out of the contents (fatty tissue) of a body cavity out of the area where they are normally contained.

Hernia affects men, women and children. Hernia can be of different types though mostly hernias occur in the abdomen. The most common type of hernia is found mostly in men. It is called Inguinal (groin) hernia that occurs when the tissue bulges into the groin through a weak spot in the belly wall. It may be seen or felt as a bulge in the scrotum in men as it bulges in there. In some people it may swell out in the navel or the belly button, the abdominal wall, in the place of an incision from a surgery or in a genetically weak spot in the belly.

Hernia may be formed or worsened by the pressure applied by heavy physical activities like weight lifting, coughing, straining during a bowel movement (constipation) or urination or due to health conditions like obesity, chronic lung disease and so on. It may be inborn in some with weak abdominal walls.

Symptoms

  • Localized pain and subsequent swelling of an area.
  • Not all the hernias are painful.
  • It will show up as a lump in the groin or other abdominal wall area
  • The formation may be slow.
  • May be hard and painful protrusion.
  • As you stand up it may increase in size and flatten as you lie down.
  • You may have pain in the groin that extends into the scrotum which increases with physical activity like coughing, bending and straining.

Surgery

Normally, hernia is without symptoms. But occasionally, a tissue trapped in the hernia may swell and die without getting blood circulation. As it gets infected you will a pain the groin. The affected person may appear ill with or without fever and may have nausea and vomiting. This condition is called incarceration and the patient may require surgery.

Care at home

Hernia is not something that can be prevented. If you are diagnosed with hernia you will have to be careful as you life weights. Do not try to lift things that are too heavy for you. Since health conditions like constipation or obesity can worsen hernia, watch out on your diet. Use good body mechanics to life things. If you have hernia, treat your cough without letting it worsen.

Emergency

  • A new bulge always needs immediate medical attention.
  • You know you have a serious problem if you get a sudden and soring pain in your groin along with vomiting.
  • If the skin around the bulge looks red and tender.
  • If you cannot push back the swelling when you are lying down.

-Aparna K V

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