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Hernia: everything you need to know

We examine critical information about hernias.

What is a hernia, and what can be done to treat it?

On this page, you will find a detailed description of what a hernia is, the types of hernias that can occur, what the symptoms for a hernia are, and how our world-class surgeons and clinicians treat hernias.

A hernia is the protrusion of a piece of tissue or organ through another wall of tissue.

It is often a part of your intestine pushing through the wall of muscle around your groin and lower abdominal cavity, or your stomach moving upwards through the hole in your diaphragm (hiatus).

Hernias occur most often in the abdomen between your chest and hips but can also appear in your groin or upper thigh area.

Most hernias aren’t immediately life-threatening, but don’t disappear on their own, and can sometimes require hernia repair surgery to prevent dangerous complications.

According to the NHS, the exact cause of a hernia is not clear: “It's not exactly clear what causes hiatus hernias, but it may be the result of the diaphragm becoming weak with age or pressure on the tummy.” 

Although the cause of a hernia is unclear, it is known that hernias can be extremely painful and make day-to-day life a challenge.

The most common symptom of a hernia is a bulge or lump in the affected area.

The lump may disappear when you’re lying down, and you’re more likely to feel your hernia through touch when you’re standing up, bending down, or coughing. You may experience pain or discomfort in the area around the lump.

Certain types of hernias may have more specific symptoms, such as chest pain, trouble swallowing or heartburn.

Often times hernias will have no symptoms, and you will only find out you have one during a physical exam by your doctor.

To diagnose a hernia, your doctor will first perform a physical examination. During this examination, your doctor may feel for a bulge in your abdominal or groin area that gets larger when you stand, cough, or strain.

You will also be asked about your medical history, which may include a variety of questions, like:

  • Do you have a personal or family history of hernias?
  • Have you had any surgeries in your abdomen or groin area?
  • When did you first notice the bulge?
  • Have you experienced any other symptoms?

To make sure you have a hernia your doctor might order an imaging test, such as an abdominal ultrasound, CT scan or MRI.

If your hernia is small and isn't bothering you, your doctor might recommend keeping an eye on it, before resorting to surgery.

It can also be helpful to wear a supportive truss, which may help relieve symptoms.

In children, your doctor might try applying manual pressure to reduce the bulge before considering surgery.

If your hernia is growing bigger, or causing you discomfort and pain, your surgeon may decide it’s best to operate.

A consultation with an experienced Consultant is often the quickest and simplest way to diagnose and treat your hernia.

They will be able to talk with you about the best treatment options for your specific situation.

Book an appointment online today.

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