Hernia Types, Causes, and Symptoms

If you’ve ever had a hernia, you know how uncomfortable and painful it can be. A hernia occurs when muscle or tissue holding an organ in place weakens, allowing the organ to break through. A common example of this is an abdominal hernia which involves the intestines pushing through a weak spot in the abdominal wall.

Hernias can happen in other areas as well, such as the groin, upper thigh, and even the belly button. Most hernias aren’t immediately dangerous, but they don’t often go away on their own and usually require surgery to prevent further complications. Visit our website to learn more about what happens before, during, and after a hernia surgery. Causes and symptoms will vary depending upon the individual, but you can take precautions to decrease your likelihood of getting a hernia. Knowing the most common reasons hernias occur will help.

What Causes a Hernia?

Hernias most often happen due to a combination of muscle weakness and strain, and can develop quickly or over a long period of time.

Some common factors behind muscle weakness include aging, obesity, damage from an injury or surgery, chronic coughing or failure of the abdominal wall to close in the womb – a congenital defect.  

Muscle strain can result from any of the following:

  • Pregnancy, which puts added pressure on your abdomen
  • Constipation, which causes you to strain when having a bowel movement
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Previous surgeries

While causes are different for everyone, it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to reduce your chances of a hernia. You are more at risk if you struggle with obesity, chronic cough or constipation, and if you smoke or have family history of hernias.

Different Types of Hernias

There are many types of hernias, but the three most common types are:

  • Inguinal Hernia
    70% of hernia surgeries fall into this category, which involves the inguinal canal found in the groin. For men specifically, it involves the spermatic cord which passes from the abdomen to the scrotum and holds up the testicles. For women, it involves the  ligaments that help hold the uterus in place. Surgery is highly recommended for this type of hernia to avoid further complications.
  • Umbilical Hernia
    An umbilical hernia develops in the belly button area and is most often seen in younger children or babies. However, it can also happen to women who are pregnant or individuals who are overweight or obese.
  • Hiatal Hernia
    A hiatal hernia involves the diaphragm, which is the muscle that separates your abdomen from your chest. In this case, part of your stomach may protrude.

Other types of hernias include Incisional, Femoral, Abdominal, Spigelian, Obturator, Epigastric, and Diaphragmatic. While every hernia is different, they all present similar symptoms. Read on to learn the warning signs so you can get the help you need as soon as possible.

What Types of Symptoms Will I Notice if I Have a Hernia?

In most cases, a hernia may be no more than painless swelling that doesn’t require any immediate medical attention. However, if the pain persists and your symptoms become worse when standing, straining, or lifting heavy items, it’s important to consult with a doctor to discuss surgery or possible treatment options.

The most common symptom of a hernia is a bulge or lump in the affected area. Each hernia will often be followed by different symptoms, but a few of these may include:

  • Pain when bending over, coughing, or lifting
  • Weakness, pressure, or a feeling of heaviness in the abdomen
  • A burning, gurgling, or aching sensation at the sore spot
  • The lump continuing to swell, increasing in size
  • Acid reflux, chest pain, or difficulty swallowing; this often happens with a Hiatal hernia
  • Nausea or vomiting

If you are noticing any of these symptoms and think you may experiencing a hernia, please contact our office today!

Understanding the extent of a hernia and recognizing early symptoms is important, since most hernias don’t go away on their own. Obtaining early medical care and making proper lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of further hernia complications. If you have questions regarding a hernia or would like to meet with one of our doctors, call us at 231-739-9461.