A hernia is a weakness in the abdominal wall resulting in the abnormal protrusion of abdominal contents (e.g. intestines) through the weakness or defect.

Similar to the inner tube pushing through a damaged tire, the inner lining of the abdomen pushes through the weakened area of the abdominal wall. As the hernia enlarges over time, it can become painful and, in some instances, may lead to more serious problems requiring emergency surgery.

CAUSES

Hernias happen one of two ways:

  • 1) ACQUIRED: you overexerted yourself
  • 2) CONGENITAL: you were born with it

There are natural areas of potential weakness throughout our abdominal wall. Hernias can develop at these or other areas due to heavy strain, aging, injury, an old incision or a weakness present from birth.

Hernias can occur at any age and are more common in men. Most hernias in children are congenital. In adults, a natural weakness or strain from heavy lifting, persistent coughing or constipation can cause the abdominal wall to weaken or separate resulting in a hernia.

TYPES

The most common hernias are:

  • Inguinal (groin), the most frequent type
  • Sports hernia (groin area)
  • Umbilical, around the belly button
  • Incisional, through a scar
  • Hiatal, a small opening in the diaphragm that allows the upper part of the stomach to move up into the chest

Other hernias:

  • Spigelian hernia, (lateral ventral hernia)
  • Femoral hernia, (below the groin/inguinal area)
  • Epigastric hernia, (upper abdominal wall hernia)
  • Internal hernia, (hernia within the abdominal cavity)

TWO WORDS ABOUT EMBARRASSMENT

Don’t be. Because of a hernia’s location, some people are embarrassed and avoid telling anyone or seeing the doctor. But there’s only one way out: fix it. The sooner you do, the better you’ll feel — physically and emotionally