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7 things you don't know about hernias

By Salt Lake Regional Medical Center  |  Posted Nov 17th, 2017 @ 8:00am


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Unless you or someone close to you has experienced a hernia, you likely don’t know much about the condition or its signs and symptoms. According to WebMD, a hernia occurs when an organ or tissue squeezes or pushes through a weak spot in its surrounding muscle or tissue, causing pain or discomfort.

Did you know there are several types of hernias, and that hernias don’t only affect men? Read on to learn seven things you may not know about hernias and their treatment.

27 percent of males and 3 percent of females develop a groin hernia at some time in their lives

According to the The New England Journal of Medicine, men are more likely than women to experience a groin hernia. The large majority of groin hernias are inguinal or affecting the inner groin. They occur more frequently in men because of natural weakness in this area.

Hernias don’t only happen to 'weak' people

When people, especially men, learn that hernias can be caused by heavy lifting or strain, they may feel silly or weak if they experience a hernia. However, the weakness in the abdomen that leads to a hernia can actually be congenital or occur at birth. Hernias also run in families, so you may be at higher risk of developing a hernia if you have a close relative who has also experienced a hernia.

Elderly or overweight people are susceptible to hernias

Another type of hernia is an incisional hernia, which, as you might suspect, occurs at the site or incision of a previous abdominal surgery. Elderly people or overweight people who are inactive after a surgery are most likely to experience this type of hernia.

Newborns can have hernias

Would you believe that newborn babies can also develop hernias? Babies can develop an umbilical hernia if the small opening where the umbilical cord passes through does not close completely after birth. Your baby may have an umbilical hernia if a bulge appears near the navel when he or she cries, disappearing when the baby is calm or is lying on its back. Fortunately, these hernias are usually painless and close or repair on their own by the time a child is age 1 or 2. Adults can also have umbilical hernias caused by obesity, multiple pregnancies or previous surgery.

Hernias also affect pregnant women

Femoral hernias, when the intestine pushes into a canal in the upper thigh, are most common in women who are pregnant or obese.

Obesity, poor nutrition and smoking can all weaken muscles and make hernias more likely

Do what you can to reduce strain on your muscles and tissues to prevent a hernia. Maintain a healthy weight, eat foods high in fiber to prevent constipation and straining and stop smoking, which often causes a nasty cough that could lead to or worsen hernias.

See a doctor if you think you have a hernia

If you have a painful or noticeable bulge in your groin on either side of your pubic bone, you should see a doctor. If the bulge turns red, purple or dark, which may be a sign of strangulation, seek immediate care. If hernias are caught and repaired early you’ll be able to enjoy a quicker recovery and reduce the likelihood of hernias returning in the future.

If you have a hernia, you may need surgery. For a less-invasive operation with the most advanced medical technology or more information, visit the abdominal health center at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center to find a provider. Salt Lake Regional Center is the first in Utah to become an SRC Robotics Center of Excellence.

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