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Types of Hernias
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Types of Hernias

What is a hernia?

A hernia is a protrusion of an organ or fatty tissue through the abdominal muscle or connective tissue. It occurs when layers of a person's abdominal wall become weak or torn. That weakness lets the inner lining of your abdomen to protrude and form a pouch, or bulge.

Groin-area hernias

Inguinal Hernia - an inguinal hernia occurs in the groin area and account for roughly 96 percent of hernia diagnoses. It occurs mostly in men because of a natural weakness in the area. An inguinal hernia usually is associated with heavy lifting, an enlarged prostate or straining from constipation or coughing.

Direct Inguinal Hernia - This occurs when there is a weak spot or tear in the muscles that form the inguinal canal and an organ or fat or small intestine slides through the hole.

Indirect Inguinal Hernia - This is the result of a defect present at birth where the lining of the abdominal cavity at the inguinal canal does not close properly.

Pantaloon Hernia - When both a direct and indirect hernia develop on the same side of the groin. Such patients are at a higher risk for recurrent hernias.

Obturator Hernia - Tissue protrudes into the inner thigh and may cause bowel blockage. These are less common and affect elderly women.

Femoral Hernia - More common in women, this involves tissue passing beneath the inguinal canal and into the thigh. They frequently cause bowel blockages.

Abdominal hernias

Ventral Hernia - These occur in the midline of the abdomen at a site other than the belly button.

Umbilical Hernia - A natural weakness in the abdominal wall at the belly button causes an umbilical hernia. The hernia sac contains fatty tissue, intestines or fluid that pushes out through that weakness and sometimes causes an "outie" belly button.

Spigelian Hernia - Spigelian hernias occur at a natural weakness of the abdominal wall along the edges of the "6-pack" muscles. Because the herniating tissue passes between the layers of the abdominal wall, a bulge is usually not present. Such hernias can cause pain and bowel blockages.

Incisional Hernia - This occurs at the site of a healing surgical scar, so people who have had previous abdominal surgery are at risk. Incisions are most susceptible for the first three to six months after the procedure, but such hernias may not become noticeable until later.

Parastomal Hernia - A parastomal hernia occurs after a stoma is created. A stoma procedure involves bringing a portion of the bowel through the abdominal wall so it can be accessed at skin level and allow for the elimination of stool or urine. Examples of stomas include gastrostomies, ileostomies and colostomies.

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What can cause a hernia?

A hernia can be caused by a number of possibilities, including lifting heavy objects without stabilizing your core muscles first. Other causes include:

  • Diarrhea or constipation/straining
  • Persistent coughing or sneezing
  • Previous abdominal surgery
  • Pregnancy
  • Lifestyle such as obesity, poor nutrition or smoking
  • A weakness present at birth

How to tell if you have a hernia

The symptoms of a hernia can include:

  • Bulge or swelling in the groin, navel or near a previous scare
  • Pain during physical activity such as jogging or lifting
  • Pain while sneezing or coughing
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
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