Hampered by a Hernia?

General, Surgery Steward Health Care

What is a hernia? Who is most susceptible to a hernia? Five million men and women alike are affected by hernias annually in the U.S. However, only 14 percent of those affected seek treatment or physician assistance. These pesky ailments can lead to much more pain and severe conditions if left untreated.

There are several types of hernias, and they most frequently occur in the abdomen; however, they can also occur in the groin, navel, or site of a previous incision due to surgery.

Common causes of hernias include strenuous activity or heavy-lifting, obesity, straining as a result of bowel movements and/or urination, excessive coughing, and family history.

“Some things to look out for if you are concerned that you may develop, or have a hernia include, a lump or mass in the groin or abdominal region, accompanied with pain or tenderness,” explains H. Drexel Dobson III, MD, FACS, a Steward Health Care general, robotic, and colorectal surgeon. “Other symptoms include pain associated with coughing, bowel movements or urination, and standing for long periods of time. Inability to make bowel movements, as well as nausea and vomiting, are other common symptoms of a hernia.”

In some cases, hernias may self-reduce. However, this is not always the case. Treatment is dependent on a host of factors – the severity of a hernia, overall health of the patient, and what type of hernia it is/where it is located. If an outpatient procedure is deemed necessary, patients are typically on their feet again within a few days. However, strenuous activity is advised to be avoided for two to six weeks, depending on hernia type, repair method, size, and location.

There are several ways to prevent hernias, including maintaining a healthy balanced diet, full of vitamins, minerals, and a lot of fiber. Smokers are advised to quit smoking, as coughing increases pressure on organs that may lead to hernias. Strenuous exercise and over-exertion should be avoided.

If you are concerned that you may be experiencing symptoms of a hernia, consult your primary care physician for an assessment.

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