Hernia: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

by | Jul 2, 2019 |

Hernia is a common condition which occurs due to weakness in the muscular wall which holds the part of organ or tissue in place and forms lump or bulge. Hernia may be congenital (present during birth) due to defective development of the abdominal wall or may develop at any time thereafter in the abdominal wall. It frequently develops in men, because of more physical exertions than in women.

Types of Hernia

It mostly occurs in the abdominal cavity but, can also appear in the belly button (umbilical), upper thigh (femoral), upper part of the stomach (hiatal), and groin areas (inguinal). The other types of hernia include epigastric, incisional, spigelian, and diaphragmatic hernia.

Symptoms

The symptoms of hernia include:

  • Swelling in the abdominal wall
  • Heavy feeling in groin or abdomen by constipation or bloody stool
  • Feeling discomfort in the abdomen due to lifting, coughing or bending
  • Increase in the size of the lump
  • Heartburn and acid reflux

Causes

Hernia is caused by pressure and opening of weak muscles. Also, smoking, obesity, or having poor nutrition may weaken the muscles which increase the risk of getting it. The activities that increase pressure on the abdominal wall include:

  • Heavyweight lifting
  • Strain due to constipation
  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Straining to urinate
  • Complications

    The complications of hernia include:

    • Strangulation: It occurs when the blood supply to the herniated tissue is blocked, which causes ischemia and cell death. It can be life-threatening, if not treated.
    • Bowel obstruction: Blockage of bowel or inability of digestive material to pass through the herniated area, which leads to abdominal cramps, vomiting, and absence of defecation.

    Diagnosis

    The various tests to diagnose hernia include:

    • Physical examination: Doctor examines around abdomen and testicles, and hernia swelling is visible when standing upright and can be felt by touching hand directly over it.
    • Ultrasound: It is used to create images of the abdominal wall and pelvic organs by using high-frequency sound waves to check the extent of the problem. This test is recommended to detect ovarian cysts in women and scrotal hernia in men.
    • Computed tomography (CT) scan and X- rays: These are used to take images of the abdomen by injecting contrast dye in the arm to determine bowel obstruction.
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): When lump or bulge is not present, then this method is used to detect hole or weak abdominal muscles by using radio waves and magnetic field.
    • Endoscopy: A small camera attached to a tube is inserted via throat to esophagus and stomach to examine the digestive tract.

    Preventions

    Following lifestyle changes can prevent hernia, which includes:

    • Maintain body weight
    • Regular exercise to strengthen abdominal muscles
    • Avoid heavy weight lifting
    • Eat high fiber food to treat constipation
    • Avoid large meals

    Treatments of Hernia

    If hernia is small and does not cause pain or discomfort, no treatment is required. But the painful hernias usually require treatment to prevent serious complications. The methods to treat include:

    Medications to treat heartburn and acid reflux:

    • Antacids: Drugs such as Mylanta, Rolaids, and Tums are used to neutralize the acid in the stomach
    • H-2 receptor blockers: Drugs such as cimetidine, nizatidine, and ranitidine are used to reduce acid production in the stomach.
    • Proton-pump inhibitors: Drugs like lansoprazole and omeprazole are used to block the production of acid and heal the esophagus.

    Surgery:

    • Open hernia repair: Surgeon makes an incision in the groin and pushes the displaced tissue back into the abdomen.
    • Lapsoscopy: A small tube with a camera is inserted into the abdomen to repair the hernia by using synthetic mesh.

    Natural care:

    • Castor seed oil: It is used to prevent inflammation and helps in proper digestion
    • Aloe vera juice: It is used as a soothing agent that helps to relief from pain in the hernia
    • Ice pack: It is used to reduce pain and inflammation in the abdomen or groin.
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