What is a hernia?
A hernia appears as a lump, most commonly in the abdominal or groin area. They occur when an organ, often the bowel, protrudes through the cavity which normally contains it. The most frequent types of hernia are:
- Inguinal hernia (in the abdomen)
- Femoral hernia (in the groin)
- Umbilical hernia (in the belly button)
- Hiatal hernia (in the diaphragm)
- Incisional hernia (through a scar)
What are the symptoms of a hernia?
A swelling or lump is the most typical sign of the presence of a hernia. They can cause pain or discomfort when performing normal daily activities or in physical exercise. Sometimes, in hernias that are still in an early stage, pain is felt even if a swelling is not yet evident. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is best to consult a specialist to avoid neglecting the hernia and prevent it from increasing in size and causing further problems.
What causes a hernia?
A hernia is mainly caused by a combination of weakness and pressure in a certain muscle band: this pressure causes the organ to be pushed through the opening of the muscle. It can be a congenital weakness or developed over the years. Other causes that may favour weakness are excessive exertion, such as heavy lifting, diarrhoea or constipation, continuous cough, being overweight or smoking.
How are hernias treated?
Depending on the hernia and its severity, some can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes. Others, however, may require surgery to fix. Many forms of hernia surgery can be performed minimally invasively.