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Struggling With A Hernia? Learn the Signs and Causes

Provided By: Medical News Today

A hernia is a common problem. It causes a localized bulge in the abdomen or groin.

It can often be harmless and pain-free, but at times it can bring discomfort and pain.

What is a hernia?

A hernia occurs when there is a weakness or hole in the peritoneum, the muscular wall that usually keeps abdominal organs in place.

This defect in the peritoneum allows organs and tissues to push through, or herniate, producing a bulge.

The lump may disappear when the person lies down, and sometimes it can be pushed back into. Coughing may make it reappear.


Hernias can commonly be found in the following areas:

Groin: a femoral hernia creates a bulge just below the groin. This is more common in women. An inguinal hernia is more common in men. It is a bulge in the groin that may reach the scrotum.

The upper part of the stomach: a hiatal or hiatus hernia is caused by the upper part of the stomach pushing out of the abdominal cavity and into the chest cavity through an opening in the diaphragm.

Belly button: a bulge in this region is produced by an umbilical or periumbilical hernia.

Surgical scar: past abdominal surgery can lead to an incisional hernia through the scar.


With the exception of an incisional hernia (a complication of abdominal surgery), in most cases, there is no obvious reason for a hernia to occur. The risk of hernia increases with age and occurs more commonly in men than in women.

A hernia can be congenital (present at birth) or develop in children who have a weakness in their abdominal wall.

Activities and medical problems that increase pressure on the abdominal wall can lead to a hernia. These include:

  • straining on the toilet (due to long-term constipation, for example)
  • persistent cough
  • cystic fibrosis
  • enlarged prostate
  • straining to urinate
  • being overweight or obese
  • abdominal fluid
  • lifting heavy items
  • peritoneal dialysis
  • poor nutrition
  • smoking
  • physical exertion
  • undescended testicles


In many cases, a hernia is no more than a painless swelling that presents no problems and needs no immediate medical attention.

A hernia may, however, be the cause of discomfort and pain, with symptoms often becoming worse when standing, straining, or lifting heavy items. Most people who notice increasing swelling or soreness eventually see a doctor.

In some cases, a hernia needs immediate surgery, for instance, when part of the gut becomes obstructed or strangulated by an inguinal hernia.

Immediate medical attention should be sought if an inguinal hernia produces acute abdominal complaints such as:

  • pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • the bulge cannot be pushed back into the abdomen

The swelling, in these cases, is typically firm and tender and cannot be pushed back up into the abdomen.

A hiatal hernia can produce symptoms of acid reflux, such as heartburn, which is caused by stomach acid getting into the esophagus.

To learn how Dr. {alafox and her team can treat your hernia, learn more by clicking here!