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eVitality January 2011
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self-care
Hernia

Photo of woman holding her stomachMillions of Americans suffer from hernias each year. Today’s technology makes solutions easier than they once were.

In a hernia—one of the most common medical conditions—tissue or part of an organ pushes through the muscle or membrane that is supposed to hold it in place.

Hernias are classified by where they occur. For example:

  • Inguinal or abdominal hernias jut through the abdominal wall.
  • Umbilical hernias push through the belly button.
  • Hiatal hernias push through the upper part of the stomach into the thorax (the trunk above the abdomen).
  • Sports hernias occur in the groin.

Symptoms
Hernia symptoms vary. The symptoms of an inguinal or abdominal hernia, the most common type, include:

  • A bulge beneath the abdomen’s skin
  • Pain when lifting or coughing
  • Pain after you’ve been standing or sitting for a long time
  • Pain after straining during a bowel movement

Hernia pain ranges from dull and constant to a sharp pain that becomes more intense when the abdomen is being strained.

Anyone who experiences severe pain or redness around an abdominal hernia, rapid heartbeat, or fever should see a doctor immediately. These could be symptoms of a strangulated hernia, a potentially life-threatening condition.

Causes
Some hernias are present at birth, but most are caused by pressure on the affected area due to lifting, coughing, or straining.

Diagnosis and Treatment
Doctors diagnose hernias by taking a medical history and performing a thorough physical examination.

Most abdominal hernias are treated with surgery on an outpatient basis. The surgeon repairs the area where the muscle wall has been strained and separated by using a synthetic mesh and possibly stitches. Postsurgery recovery time depends on the size of the hernia, whether the surgery was done laparoscopically or through a larger incision, and the age and general health of the patient.

Hernia surgeries are safe and complications are rare. If you have any of the symptoms of this common condition, see a health care provider. A hernia will not heal by itself, but small abdominal hernias that aren’t causing symptoms don’t need immediate treatment.

For more information, visit Hernia Symptoms at www.herniasymptoms.org.

© StayWell Custom Communications. Information is the opinion of the sourced authors and organizations. Personal decisions regarding health, diet, and exercise should be made only after consultation with the reader's own medical advisers. This material may not be reproduced for redistribution without written permission from StayWell Custom Communications.


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