Types of Common Hernias: Guide to Treatment Options

What is Hernia

Protrusion of organs or fatty tissues through weak areas of muscles or connective tissues is called hernia. This condition mostly occurs in the abdominal or groin area.

Different types of hernia

Some of the most common types of hernia are –

Inguinal Hernia – This type of hernia occurs when the intestinal muscles bulge out of the abdominal walls into the inguinal canal present in the groin area. An inguinal hernia is the most common type of hernia which mostly occurs in men.

Incisional Hernia – The aged and people suffering from obesity usually get diagnosed with this kind of hernia. An incisional hernia occurs when the intestine is pushed through the abdominal wall. This usually happens when there are weak and inactive muscles present in the abdomen.

Femoral Hernia – This type of hernia appears in the upper thigh area, mostly found in women who are pregnant or obese. This condition occurs when the intestines protrude into the canal carrying the femoral artery.

Hiatal Hernia –  When a part of the stomach bulges out through the diaphragm into the chest cavity, a hiatal hernia happens. Individuals above the age of 50 are prone to developing hiatal hernia. This condition can also appear in a child having a congenital disability.

Umbilical Hernia – This type of hernia is prevalent in newborns, where a small part of the intestine bulges out of the abdominal wall near the belly button. It can also affect pregnant women carrying multiple fetuses and obese women.

Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

Causes of Hernia – Most often, a hernia is caused due to pressure applied on weak muscles. This pressure forces the organs or tissues to bulge out of its designated area. Some of the common causes of hernia are-

  • Weak muscles present at birth.
  • Lifting heavy objects without maintaining proper body posture.
  • Constipation or Diarrhea
  • Chronic coughing or sneezing can increase the risk of hernia.
  • Smoking, malnutrition and obesity weakens muscles which allow the organs and tissues to bulge out.

Symptoms of Hernia

  • The most common symptom found in patients suffering from the hernia is the presence of a lump or bulge in the affected area.
  • Individuals suffering from hiatal hernia can experience discomfort in swallowing, continuous chest pain and heartburn.
  • In rare cases, symptoms do not occur, and the presence of hernia is diagnosed during a regular health checkup.

Treatment Options of Hernia

  • Usually, hernias require surgical treatments. The type of surgery depends on the size of the hernia and the discomfort caused by it. In some cases, where the hernia is too small or causes issues that may disappear on their own, doctors do not recommend surgeries.
  • Wearing a truss helps in relieving discomforts caused by small and uncomplicated hernias. A truss supports the hernia and keeps it in place. You will have to consult a doctor to get suggestions on the size of the truss.
  • Over the counter medicines are recommended to ease discomforts caused during hiatal hernia. The OTC medicines help in reducing stomach acids that relieves you from uneasiness caused by a hiatal hernia.

Tips to Lower The Risk of Hernia

A hernia cannot be avoided if it is present from birth. However, the risk can be lowered by taking a few precautionary measures. Here are a few tips to lower the risk of hernia.

  • Exercising regularly strengthens weak muscles and reduce the risk of hernia.
  • Do not force bowel movements. Seek medical help to ease the discomfort caused due to constipation.
  • Avoid lifting heavy weights regularly. Maintain good body postures while lifting heavy objects.
  • Increase intake of high fibre food to avoid constipation.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking increases cough, which exerts pressure on weak muscles, causing a hernia.
  • Monitor weight gain regularly and work on maintaining a healthy weight.

Treatment Options: Is Surgery Needed?

Surgery is the most effective way to fix a hernia. Surgery helps in pushing the protruded part back to its designated place. A hernia can be treated through two types of surgeries.

Laparoscopic Surgery –  In this type, the abdominal area is bloated with carbon dioxide to get a clear view of the abdomen. Later few small incisions are made to insert laparoscope tubes which are designed to hold cameras on one end. The surgeon completes the procedure by looking at the images captured by the camera. This procedure is pretty straightforward, and the recovery process is also very quick.

Open Surgery –  Open surgeries are done when there is a large hernia. In this type of surgery one big incision is made. This allows the surgeon to either push the hernia back to its place or to remove the hernia. A flexible mesh is added to the affected area for stronger support and to keep the hernia in place.