Hernia Symptoms and Treatments
If you exercise, eat right and still have hemorrhoids, then a hiatal hernia may be the culprit. – HemHealing.com
Hernia Symptoms and Treatment
Hernia Introduction and Overview
A hernia occurs when an opening of the abdominal wall causes contents of the body to protrude through, often being visually seen as a bulge on the body. It may or may not be painful, however identifying and seeking treatment for a hernia is important as they usually don’t heal by themselves and end up getting worse.
Hernias are usually caused by a muscle tear as the result of heavy lifting, pregnancy or even hard coughing. It’s sometimes present in birth defects which can degenerate over time with age.
There are other contributing factors as well, such as obesity and getting older that may increase the chances of ripping the lining that contains your internal organs.
- There are several types of hernias, classified by location:
- Inguinal Hernia: Occurs in the groin. This is the most common type of hernia, most common in men, and accounts for 80% of all hernias.
- Femoral Hernia: These are similar to inguinal hernias, but they appear lower in the body. These are more common to women, especially during pregnancy.
- Incisional Hernia: Also known as a ventral hernia, and as the name implies the hernia occurs at an old incision or scar. Again, this occurs more frequently in women during pregnancy or those gaining large amounts of weight, thus stretching old scar tissue.
- Umbilical Hernia: Occurs at the naval. These hernias are common in infants where the belly button doesn’t fully close after birth. These can sometimes clear themselves up.
- Hiatal Hernia: Unlike the above hernias, this one isn’t abdominal and it can’t be seen outside the body in a bulge as with the others. More common in women, this occurs when the stomach bulges upward into the diaphragm.
You can usually feel a hernia as it develops, although a hernia can sometimes be painless. In fact, nearly half of all hernias don’t have any symptoms. It’s important to pay attention to your body and if you have any concerns a hernia may have occurred – consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Some of the common symptoms of having a hernia include feeling a tear or burning sensation, especially upon straining or lifting something heavy. Usually there is a noticeable bulge under the skin where the pain is felt, which may become more apparent when stressing the muscles in the immediate area.
In the event the hernia is hiatal, or internal, heartburn is usually the telling sign. The heartburn occurs when stomach acid is pushed back into the esophagus, and this may be more pronounced when lying down.
Usually, but not always, hernias are easy to diagnose. As mentioned earlier, a tell-tale bulge is usually associated with the more common hernia types. Many of us have had physicals, especially men, where the doctor felt various areas of our body (like the groin) and asked us to cough.
Coughing will cause a potential hernia to protrude even further, making it easier to spot. You may view pictures of hernias offsite, as they’re too graphic to show here.
This method can be applied to all hernia types except for a Hiatal hernia, which may be accompanied by internal discomfort and heartburn. Since heartburn can also be caused by other problems, Hiatal hernias diagnosed using a procedure known as endoscopy; in which a small tube is inserted through the mouth, into the esophagus and stomach which allows the doctor to visually see the hernia.
These things tend to get worse, hernias usually will not repair themselves except in very minor cases. If there is a tear large enough to cause a bulge, both the tear and the bulge will likely get worse over time without proper treatment. In many cases, however, it is possible to repair a hernia without surgery.
For abdominal hernias, which cover most cases as we’ve already went over, hernia repair consists of a support garment known as a truss may be used to hold the bulge in place to keep it from protruding.
Avoiding heavy lifting and strenuous exercises while wearing the truss might help the tear heal while the bulge is contained.
Some signs the hernia is getting worse include vomiting, constant pain and nausea. In the event the hernia is internal or the bulge cannot be contained, surgery is the only option.
If a hernia treatment is not successful, or possible, surgery will be required to repair it. Fortunately the procedure is relatively easy, and involves pushing the hernia back into the abdominal cavity and sewing the muscle holding it back into place. Sometimes reinforcement, like a hernia patch, is used to help hold the hernia in place.
Of course, hiatal hernias require different approach and surgery is only used as a last resort. Medication, antacids for example, is often prescribed to minimized heartburn while the patient undergoes lifestyle changes like avoiding spicy foods and eating smaller meals.
Surgery is only required for hiatal hernias about 15% of the time and, even so, the prognosis is good and cases rarely reappear. Hernias do not usually recur once treated, and those that do make up less than 10% of all cases.