Hernias are painful and annoying for those who have them. There are usual signs and symptoms that make hernias easy to self-diagnose, but they don’t go away on their own. Hernias do not heal over time and require medical attention to resolve. This article will explain the signs and symptoms of hernias and what to do if you suspect you have one.
What is a Hernia?
There are four different types of hernias:
Let’s explore each hernia type in more depth.
An Inguinal Hernia usually presents as a bulge in the groin area. The groin area spans from the lower abdominals to the thigh, where the inguinal canal is located. When you have an inguinal hernia, tissue or a portion of the intestines protrudes through the muscle wall and creates a bulge at the inner thigh. Inguinal hernias are more common in men than women and, like most hernias, have varying symptoms we will discuss further.
Femoral hernias are similar to inguinal hernias but aren’t associated with the inguinal canal. Where the inguinal canal contains blood vessels and sperm pathways in males that lead to the testicles and is the ligament that supports the womb in females, a femoral hernia bypasses the inguinal canal and results in fatty tissues or intestines bulging through a weakened muscle wall. The bulge is often located at the inner thigh. Femoral hernias are more common in women than in men.
Most people are familiar with umbilical hernias as they are common in infants and adults. Umbilical hernias result from tissue or intestines leaking through the abdominal muscle wall due to weakness or separation and appear as a bulge at the navel.
Hiatal hernias occur when the stomach bulges through the separation between the upper abdominal muscles and the diaphragm. According to the Mayo Clinic, Hiatal hernias are different than other hernia types due to their involvement of the stomach, which leads to specific side effects, including heartburn and upset stomach.
What are the signs and symptoms of hernias?
Now that we know where each hernia is located, let’s explore common signs and symptoms:
- Bulging or protrusion in the groin area
- Bulging or protrusion at the navel
- Bulging or protrusion in the diaphragm
- Tenderness or pain at the site of the bulge
- Dull or achy sensations in the herniated area
- Pain with physical movement
- Pain when straining (lifting or during bowel movements)
Other, more severe symptoms include:
- Increased heart rate
While some people experience painful, even debilitating symptoms from having a hernia, others have no symptoms at all. Luckily, most hernias are not emergencies unless your symptoms are severe. If you experience severe hernia-related symptoms, you must seek medical attention immediately. However, most hernias are more annoying than painful and do not resolve on their own.
Hernia Treatment Options
If you suspect you have a hernia, you must seek out the opinion of a healthcare professional to obtain a diagnosis. Different hernias require different procedures. For example, after a physical exam of a hernia, a doctor might order a CT scan to explore the affected area further.
Hiatal hernias can be helped through medication to manage symptoms, but most hernias will require surgery to rectify. Your primary care physician will recommend seeking a competent surgeon’s opinion by referral. If left untreated, hernias can grow in size and become more painful over time. It’s best to address your concerns as quickly as possible to decrease possible complications associated with growing and painful hernias.
There are four different types of hernias. Umbilical and Hiatal hernias are more easily discernible from the rest. All hernias require medical attention to resolve. Leaving hernias untreated can result in further complications and pain over time. While hernia-related symptoms can be managed with medication, surgery is required to fix the muscle wall and restore the tissue to its healthy state.