LIFESTYLE

Hernia: Symptoms And Treatment Of The Common Health Problem Explained

One in 10 will develop a hernia in their lifetime.

26/04/2017 16:23 | Updated 26 April 2017
BEN STANSALL via Getty Images

Professor Green has opened up about his health struggles on social media after undergoing surgery to fix an incisional hernia - where tissue pokes through a surgical wound in the abdomen that hasn’t fully healed.

Green, 33, whose real name is Stephen Manderson, underwent surgery to fix three hernias and ended up back in hospital with serious complications including a collapsed lung and pneumonia.

He has since revealed that he’s on the mend and has urged people not to worry about him.

In light of his ordeal, we dug a bit deeper into who is typically affected by hernias, plus the different types you can get and how is best to treat them.  

What is a hernia?

According to the The British Hernia Association, anybody can develop a hernia.

One in 10 will develop one in their lifetime and it affects men and women, boys and girls, and many babies are born with them too.

A hernia occurs when an internal part of the body pushes through a weakness in the muscle or surrounding tissue wall. It typically develops between the chest and hips.

There are a few different types of hernia, according to the NHS. These include:

Inguinal hernias - when fatty tissue or part of the bowel pokes through into the groin at the top of the inner thigh. It is associated with ageing and repeated strain on the abdomen.

Femoral hernias - when fatty tissue or part of the bowel pokes through into the groin at the top of the inner thigh, pushing through a weak spot in the surrounding muscle wall into an area called the femoral canal. It is also associated with ageing and repeated strain on the abdomen.

Umbilical hernias - when fatty tissue or a part of the bowel pokes through the abdomen near the belly button. It can occur in babies if the opening in the abdomen through which the umbilical cord passes doesn’t seal properly after birth. Adults can also be affected.

Hiatus hernias - when part of the stomach pushes up into the chest by squeezing through an opening in the diaphragm. It may not have any noticeable symptoms, although it can cause heartburn in some people.

Incisional hernias - where tissue pokes through a surgical wound in the abdomen that hasn’t fully healed.

Epigastric hernias - where fatty tissue pokes through the abdomen, between the navel and the lower part of your breastbone.

Spigelian hernias - where part of the bowel pokes through the abdomen at the side of the abdominal muscle, below the navel.

Diaphragmatic hernias - where organs in the abdomen move into the chest through an opening in the diaphragm. This can affect babies if their diaphragm doesn’t develop properly in the womb.

Muscle hernias - where part of a muscle pokes through your abdomen, they also occur in leg muscles as the result of a sport injury.

Symptoms

According to NHS advice, in many cases hernias cause little or no symptoms at all. Most people will notice a swelling in their abdomen or groin, which can often be pushed back in or disappears when lying down.

Coughing or straining may also make the lump appear.

If you think you have a hernia, it’s worth booking an appointment to see your GP who will then determine if you need treatment.

If you have a hernia and experience sudden, severe pain; vomiting; constipation or wind; or the hernia becomes firm, tender or cannot be pushed back in, you should visit A&E immediately. 

Treatment

Millions of hernia operations are performed each year, making it the world’s most common surgical operation. The British Hernia Association says that over 100,000 of them are performed here in the UK.

In adults, surgery is the only treatment option for fixing a hernia. 

People will either undergo open surgery, where one cut is made to allow the surgeon to push the lump back into the abdomen, or keyhole surgery which is a less invasive technique where several smaller cuts are made, allowing the surgeon to use various special instruments to repair the hernia.

Most people are able to go home the same day or the day after treatment and should recovery fully within a few weeks.

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