ABOUT Hernia - Symptoms, Causes, Types and Treatment
What is a Hernia?
A hernia is a bulge that can be seen or felt in your abdominal wall. This bulge is created when the intestine squeezes through a tear in the abdominal muscles. The tear can be small enough to go unnoticed for years, but it usually gets bigger over time. Any time this tear gets big enough, you'll notice symptoms including pain, swelling around the bulging area, and sometimes fever or trouble urinating.
What Causes a Belly or Abdominal (Ventral) Hernia?
You can develop a hernia if:
1) Your abdominal muscles tear and the intestine pushes through the tear;
2) The intestine grows bigger and squeezes through the hole;
3) The hole gets bigger all by itself, or
4) Both parts of the intestine get pulled out of place by another part of your body (like your muscles).
Who is at higher risk for a Ventral Hernia?
Risk factors for a hernia include:
Being overweight. A lot of extra pressure and strain is put on your abdominal muscles when you're overweight. If your abdominal muscles tear, it's easier for the intestine to get pushed out through the tear. This is more likely if your stomach or another organ such as your bladder or uterus has got bigger because of obesity, too.
Women who have had children are at higher risk for ventral hernias because pregnancy and childbirth can increase their chance of developing a ventral hernia. It can happen to women who've never had children, too. And older adults are more likely to develop a ventral hernia than younger adults because their tissues often weaken as they age.
How is a Belly or Abdominal (Ventral) Hernia Diagnosed?
If you have symptoms that include pain, swelling, or fever in your belly or your back (just above your belly button), you may think you have a hernia. But other tests may be needed. Your doctor examines your belly to determine if it's truly herniated. If so, she'll do some other tests to make sure the problem isn't something else. These tests might include:
· X-rays or CT scans (if possible) to see if there's an actual hole in your abdominal wall.
· Ultrasounds to determine how big the hernia is and whether any other organs are getting pinched.
Avoiding cystourethrogram (VQ) if you have problems urinating or bowel movements. A VQ uses x-rays and dye to see if there's a problem with your urethra or bladder. You'll need an IV for this test. The dye may make your urine look blue for a few hours after the test.
How are Hernias Treated?
Treatment for a ventral hernia may include making changes to what you eat and drink, losing weight if you're overweight, and surgery to fix the tear in the muscle. Your treatment depends on how severe your symptoms are and whether surgery is likely to solve your problem.
What are the signs of a Hernia emergency?
A small hernia may be treated with medicine or non-surgical (physical therapy or injection therapy) treatment. If you're having trouble urinating, your doctor might suggest surgery to repair the hernia at the same time you're treated for an infection. A large hernia can turn into an emergency because it can cut off blood flow to an area of your body.
If you notice signs that could be signs of a health problem, call your doctor right away. Some signs include:
· Pain in your abdomen (lower back). This pain could be so severe it may keep you awake at night or cause you to wake up suddenly in pain.
· Sudden back, abdominal, or chest pain. You may feel a sharp pain in your lower back or your abdomen.
· Fever and chills. A high fever combined with chills is a serious sign that you have an infection that can be life-threatening if left untreated.
· Bleeding from the umbilical area (belly button). This could be the result of hernia repair. It's also possible to get bleeding from an internal organ pulled up into the hole where you have the hernia.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Does a Belly or Abdominal (Ventral) Hernia Feel Like?
Most often, a hernia feels like a lump or a bulge in your belly. But sometimes you may feel only a sharp pain and fever. Some people also have digestive symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.
When should I Consider Surgery?
If you're in pain, surgery might not be the best option for you. Ventral hernias often get better on their own or can be treated with medicine. If you've tried medicine but your symptoms still bother you, surgery might be the next step for your doctor to consider.
Medicine can relieve symptoms related to an abdominal hernia so you don't need surgery right away.