What Causes A Hernia In Adults And How Is It Treated?


Hernia is a condition that occurs mostly in men and it happens when an organ or a fatty tissue pushes through a weak spot in a surrounding muscle or connective tissue. In this article, we will write about the causes of hernia, symptoms and treatment.

Hernia is most common in the abdomen but they can also occur in the belly button, upper thigh and groin areas. They may be present at birth (congenital) or develop later as well.

1. Inguinal hernia - It is the most common type of hernia which makes up about 70 per cent of all hernias, according to the British Hernia Centre. An inguinal hernia occurs when the intestines push through a weak spot or tear the lower abdominal wall, often in the inguinal canal which is present in your groin. It is the place where the spermatic cord passes from the abdomen to the scrotum which holds up the testicles.

2. Incisional hernia - After you have done an abdominal surgery, the intestines might push through the incision scar or the weakened tissue, leading to an incisional hernia.

3. Hiatal hernia - The oesophagus passes from the chest into the abdomen through an opening called the hiatus. When a part of your stomach bulges out through the hiatus, it is called a hiatal hernia. This hernia is common in people over 50 years old.

4. Femoral hernia - This occurs when the intestinal tissues push through the wall of the femoral canal. A femoral hernia is most common in pregnant and obese women.

5. Umbilical hernia - This happens when a part of the small intestine pushes through the abdominal muscles. One can notice a bulge in the belly button.

Hernia causes when there is a strain in the weak muscles or connective tissues or weakness in the muscles caused by an interruption in the body's natural cycle of tissue breakdown and repair.

Age, chronic coughing and damage from surgery are the causes of muscle weakness. Factors that strain your body are lifting heavyweight, being constipated, fluid in the abdomen, persistent coughing and surgery in the area.

The most common symptom of a hernia is a lump in the affected area. Other common symptoms are pain or discomfort in the affected area, weakness, or a feeling of heaviness in the abdomen, a burning or aching sensation in the area. Other symptoms are chest pain, difficulty in swallowing, and acid reflux.

The risk factors are a family history of hernias, obesity, chronic constipation, cough, and smoking. Cystic fibrosis can also increase the risk factor for hernia.

A physical examination is done for inguinal or incisional hernias. The doctor will feel the lump in your abdomen, and if it's a hiatal hernia, it will be diagnosed with a barium x-ray or endoscopy. Both these tests allow your doctor to see the internal location of your stomach.

The treatment for hernia is mainly surgery but, in the case of hiatal hernia, medications such as antacids, H2 receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors reduce stomach acid and improve the symptoms.

However, surgery is assessed based on a number of factors which include the type of hernia, the content of your hernia, your symptoms and your general health.

The two main types which are:

1. Open surgery which is done by closing the hernia using mesh, or sutures and the surgical wound in the skin is closed with sutures, or surgical glue.

2. Laparoscopic operation (keyhole surgery) is a more difficult technique but it's less damaging to the surrounding tissue. The operation is done by making several smaller cuts, allowing the surgeon to use various special instruments to treat the hernia.

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