June is National Hernia Awareness Month
Hernias are a common ailment, as shown by the over one million hernia surgeries conducted in the U.S. each year. Yet, many Americans do not seek treatment. Hernias affect men, women, and children. However, overall, hernias do tend to be more common in men than women.
What is a Hernia?
A hernia occurs when an organ or intestines break through the muscle wall of the groin or abdomen. This creates a noticeable bulge in the afflicted area. Pain levels vary. For some, hernias cause only slight discomfort, while others experience gut-wrenching pain.
Examples of hernias include:
- Abdominal Hernia – these are generally protrusions that occur above the belt, which happens due to a weakness in the abdominal wall.
- Hiatal Hernia – occurs when the upper part of the stomach pushes through an opening in the diaphragm.
- Umbilical Hernia – occurs around or in the belly button. If your belly button is typically pushed in and suddenly appears to have something bulging out, then you most likely have an umbilical hernia.
- Incisional Hernia – occurs at the incision line of a previous surgery.
- Femoral Hernia – occurs at the top of the leg or groin area.
- Inguinal Hernia –occurs below the belt, on either side or both sides of the groin or the scrotum area.
Hernia risk factors include:
- Strains on the abdominal wall.
- Heavy lifting increases intra-abdominal pressure.
- Chronic coughing leading to increased strain on the abdominal wall.
- Abdominal weight gain can lead to stretching of the abdominal wall.
- A surgical procedure on the abdominal wall can weaken the wall.
It is imperative to have your Hernia repaired as ignoring it can sometimes lead to life-threatening complications. Identifying hernias early can prevent health-threatening problems which may require emergency surgery. Hernias do not improve or resolve untreated. They will enlarge and worsen over time which makes repair much more complex and riskier.
In most cases of hernia repair, you will typically:
- Have laparoscopic, same-day surgery with minimal invasion
- Receive local anesthesia at the sight of the Hernia instead of general anesthesia
- Can begin returning to normal activities within a few days
If you think you may have a hernia, please contact your primary health care provider for evaluation and treatment.
Nathan Murray, PA-C
Marlow Family Care