What is Hernia?
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A hernia (rupture) is usually noticed as a lump, commonly in the groin or the umbilical region. It appears when a portion of the tissue which lines the abdominal cavity (peritoneum) breaks through a weakened area of the abdominal wall. This can give rise to discomfort as the hernia enlarges and can sometimes be dangerous if a piece of intestine becomes trapped ('strangulated') inside. Hernias are common. They can affect men, women and children at any age. Some people are born with weak abdominal muscles and may be more likely to get a hernia.
A hernia occurs when an organ or tissue squeezes through a hole or a weak spot in a surrounding muscle or connective tissue called fascia.
The most common location for hernia is the abdomen. A hernia is a weakness or defect in the abdominal wall. It may be present from birth, or develop over a period of time. If the defect is large enough, abdominal contents such as the bowels, may protrude through the defect causing a lump or bulge felt by the patient. Hernias develop at certain sites which have a natural tendency to be weak; the groin, umbilicus (belly button), and previous surgical incisions.
A hernia occurs when the contents of a body cavity bulge out of the area where they are normally contained. These contents, usually portions of intestine or abdominal fatty tissue, are enclosed in the thin membrane that naturally lines the inside of the cavity. Although the term hernia can be used for bulges in other areas, it most often is used to describe hernias of the lower torso (abdominal wall hernias). Hernias by themselves may be asymptomatic, but nearly all have a potential risk of having their blood supply cut off (becoming strangulated). If the hernia sac contents have their blood supply cut off at the hernia opening in the abdominal wall, it becomes a medical and surgical emergency.
Types of Hernia
Inguinal Hernia: The intestine or the bladder protrudes through the abdominal wall or into the inguinal canal in the groin. About 80% of all hernias are Inguinal, and most occur in men because of a natural weakness in this area.
Incisional Hernia: The intestine pushes through the abdominal wall at the site of previous abdominal surgery. This type is most common in elderly or overweight people who are inactive after abdominal surgery.
Femoral Hernia: It occurs when the intestine enters the canal carrying the femoral artery into the upper thigh. Femoral hernias are most common in women, especially those who are pregnant or obese.
Umbilical Hernia: A part of the small intestine passes through the abdominal wall near the navel. Common in newborns, it also commonly afflicts obese women or those who have had many children.
Hiatal Hernia: It happens when the stomach squeezes through the hiatus, an opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus and two large blood vessels pass.
Spigelian Hernia: This rare hernia occurs along the edge of the rectus abdominus muscle, which is several inches to the side of the middle of the abdomen.
Obturator Hernia: This extremely rare abdominal hernia develops mostly in women. This hernia protrudes from the pelvic cavity through an opening in the pelvic bone (obturator foramen). This will not show any bulge but can act like a bowel obstruction and cause nausea and vomiting.
Epigastric Hernia: It occurrs between the navel and the lower part of the rib cage in the midline of the abdomen. Epigastric hernias are composed usually of fatty tissue and rarely contain intestine. Formed in an area of relative weakness of the abdominal wall, these hernias are often painless and unable to be pushed back into the abdomen when first discovered.
Causes of Hernia
Although abdominal hernias can be present at birth, others develop later in life. Family history of hernias can make you more likely to develop a hernia. Some involve pathways formed during fetal development, existing openings in the abdominal cavity, or areas of abdominal wall weakness.
Any condition that increases the pressure of the abdominal cavity may contribute to the formation or worsening of a hernia. Examples include:
Straining during a bowel movement or urination
Chronic lung disease
Fluid in the abdominal cavity
Symptoms of Hernia
Some patients with hernias are unaware of their presence until the hernias are pointed out to them. The patient may notice a bulge under the skin without any associated symptoms. When hernias do cause symptoms, the symptoms can be variable in quality and intensity. Discomfort can be related to the contents of the hernia sac or pressure of the sac on the surrounding tissue. Patients may experience pain when lifting a heavy object, coughing, or straining during urination or bowel movement. In some cases the pain is a dull ache that gets worse towards the end of the day after standing for long periods of time and is relieved at night when you lie down and the hernia reduces (goes back in).
Hernias are fairly easy to diagnose. A doctor can usually feel the hernia simply by touching it. The doctor may ask the patient to cough. The extra pressure caused by coughing will make the hernia stick out even more, making it even easier to feel.
Endoscopy is a procedure in which a small tube is inserted through the mouth, then into the esophagus and stomach to allow the doctor to see the hernia.
Some common symptoms include:
Bulge or swelling
Pain (Loalized & Generalized)
Nausea and/or Vomiting
New lump in the groin or other abdominal wall area
May ache but is not tender when touched
Sometimes pain precedes the discovery of the lump
Lump increases in size when standing or when abdominal pressure is increased (such as coughing)
Signs and symptoms of bowel obstruction may occur, such as nausea and vomiting
The affected person may appear ill with or without fever
Treatment of Hernia
The surgical treatment for hernia is relatively simple. The hernia is pushed back into the abdominal cavity. The muscle lying on top of the hernia is then sewed back into place. If necessary, additional support may be added to keep the hernia in place.
If a hernia is not treated, severe complications can result. Part of the intestine can become trapped outside the muscles of the abdomen. A blockage in the intestine may develop. In the worst cases, this blockage can cut off the blood supply to the intestine. Part of the intestine may actually die
For small, non-strangulated and non-incarcerated hernias, various supports and trusses may offer temporary, symptomatic relief. However, the best treatment is herniorrhaphy (surgical closure or repair of the muscle wall through which the hernia protrudes).
When the weakened area is very large, some strong synthetic material may be sewn over the defect to reinforce the weak area. Postoperative care involves protecting the patient from respiratory infections that might cause coughing or sneezing, which would strain the suture line. Recovery is usually quick and complete.
There are some products available in the market such as HerniCare, etc. Such products contain various herbal formulation. These vital energy building and regulating and pain controlling herbs works together to:
(1) achieve healthy vitality of the related organs, correcting their weak and flabby state and make them stay in their proper places and function normally;
(2) strengthen the partitions including diaphragms, abdominal wall, related muscles and tissues;
(3) dispel pathogenic factors such as cold and dampness and normalize the functions of the related organs;
(4) repair strain-caused injuries and
(5) soothe the pain
Learn more about HerniCare- a herbal remedy for hernia
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