Are you overweight, struggle with chronic constipation, have chronic spells of coughing, or lift heavy weights regularly? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you might be prone to developing a hernia.
A hernia is a protrusion of an organ or fatty tissue through the overlying muscular or connective tissue layer. It commonly occurs in the abdominal wall region and is more commonly seen in men. It is estimated about 1.5% of the population in the US are affected by this condition.
The common types of hernia are:
- Inguinal Hernia: The inguinal canal is a pathway in the groin through which structures from the abdomen pass into the external genitalia. A weakness in this region can result in a painful bulge in the groin. The inguinal canal is larger in men and therefore they are more commonly affected by this condition.
- Femoral Hernia: The femoral canal is a pathway in the groin through which the femoral artery passes to the lower extremities. A weakness in this region may occur perhaps due to childbearing or straining. The condition occurs more commonly in women.
- Umbilical Hernia: The intestines push through the abdominal wall in the navel region. It is commonly seen in newborn infants and pregnant or obese women.
- Hiatal Hernia: A part of your stomach protrudes through your diaphragm and into your chest region. It usually only occurs in people above the age of 50.
- Incisional Hernia: The intestines push through the abdominal wall at the site of a previous surgical incision. It is commonly seen in inactive individuals following an abdominal surgery.
Hernias are formed due to a combination of weak musculature, excessive straining, or lifting objects improperly. To lessen the risk of developing a hernia you should:
- Avoid lifting heavy weights
- Use proper technique while lifting
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid straining while moving your bowels
- Protect a weakened area in your lower abdomen while coughing or straining by changing your posture or discretely placing your hand against the weak region.
- Strengthen your abdominal musculature with abdominal exercises, but don’t overdo it.
The only definitive treatment for a hernia is surgical repair, but not all hernias require surgery. If you feel you have a hernia, it is best to get it checked out as soon as possible to avoid the development of any complications. Your doctor may suggest a wait-and-watch approach for a very small hernia, in which case following the tips mentioned above should ensure your hernia is not a constant drag on your active lifestyle.