Hernia- is the protrusion of organs, such as intestines, through a weakened section of the abdominal wall. If left untreated, the split in the muscle widens and greater amounts of tissue or organs are pushed through the opening, forming a sac. This visible lump or bulge is one of the key characteristics of a hernia.
The symptoms of a hernia can vary depending on the location and severity, but may include:
- A visible lump or a swollen area
- A heavy or uncomfortable feeling in the gut, particularly when bending over
- Pain or aching, particularly on exertion (such as lifting or carrying heavy objects)
- Digestive upsets, such as constipation
- The lump disappears when the person is lying down
- The lump enlarges upon coughing, straining or standing up.
- Inguinal – occurring in the groin. This is the most common form, accounting for more than nine out of 10 hernias. A loop of intestine pushes against the small ring of muscle in the groin, eventually splitting the muscle fibres apart. Inguinal hernias affect more men than women and are particularly common in middle age.
- Femoral – occurring high on the thigh, where the leg joins the body. Similar to the events that cause an inguinal hernia, intestines force their way through the weak muscle ring at the femoral canal until they protrude. This herniated section of bowel is at risk of strangulation, which is a serious complication requiring urgent medical attention. Femoral hernias are more common in women.
- Umbilical – a portion of the gut pushes through a muscular weakness near the navel, or belly button. This type of hernia is more common in newborns. Overweight women, or those who have had several pregnancies, are also at increased risk.
- Incisional – after abdominal surgery, the site of repair will always be structurally weaker. Sometimes, the intestines can push through the closed incision, causing a hernia.