Do you think you have a hernia?

What are hernias?

The hernias we address in this  Medical Minute are inguinal, or groin, hernias. More common in men than women, an inguinal hernia can occur when part of the small intestine protrudes through a weakness or tear in the area between your abdomen and your thigh- or your groin. It’s possible for anyone to get an inguinal hernia, but it is more commonly found in males.

Hernias form a bulge and can be accompanied by pain. Men have an approximate 26% lifetime risk of having hernia at some point in their life, where as women have a much lower chance of one- only about 3% of women will experience a hernia at some point in their life. There are other types of hernias, such as abdominal, or “hiatal” hernias but groin hernias outnumber abdominal hernias by about 3 to 1.

What causes a hernia?

The cause of a hernia is not always known, but hernias are often the result of weak spots in the abdominal wall. Weaknesses can be due to congenital defects (present at birth) or formed later in life. Some risk factors for inguinal hernia include:
• fluid or pressure in the abdomen
• heavy lifting
• straining during urination or bowel movements
• obesity
• chronic cough
• pregnancy

Hernias often form in people with weakened abdominal muscles or in those who do a lot of heavy lifting or straining, which is why we see it quite often in young men. Physiology plays a part: men have testicles and scrotum which descend through the inguinal canal-much larger in men than in women. That is part of the reason men tend to be more susceptible to hernias than women.

Hernia Symptoms

Symptoms of inguinal hernia usually include a bulge in the groin area and pain, pressure, or aching at the bulge—especially when lifting, bending, or coughing. These symptoms usually subside during rest periods. Men may also experience swelling around the testicles.

Screening and diagnosis of hernias

If you are having abdominal pain or pelvic bulge and pain, you want to see physician, and he or she will do an exam. They will use their finger, to see if you have a bulge in your scrotum or on your groin and they’ll see if its reducible or not. If the exam doesn’t give them the answer, they can then perform an ultrasound, an inexpensive test that can tell you the same day whether a hernia is present.

What to do if you think you have a hernia

Most of the time hernias do not cause problems. People often live with hernias their entire life without them becoming aggravated or painful. When they do cause pain though, there is concern that complications may have arisen. Most common hernias are what we call reducible; you can take your finger or you can lie down in bed and due to the effects of gravity, the bulge in the groin will actually disappear, which means the intestinal contents actually go back into the abdominal cavity or to the correct location. If it’s not reducible by lying down or using a finger or having a physician trying to reduce it, then there are concerns about complications such as strangulation, or incarceration occurring. If those concerns are there, then you need to see a surgeon, and there may be a need for surgery.

How to Treat a Hernia

As stated earlier, hernias can often be watched for years without being treated. If however, they are causing pain, we generally refer you to a surgeon who can do a very simple laparoscopic surgery.

If you suspect a hernia, but have not been diagnosed, you should see your doctor, and of course, we are happy to see you here at AFC Urgent Care