Hernias occur when an organ pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. Hernias can appear in the upper thigh, belly button, and groin areas, but they are most commonly found in the abdomen. Most hernias are not life threatening but do require treatment to prevent potentially serious complications. The most common symptom of a hernia is a bulge or lump, often accompanied by pain or discomfort when bending over, coughing or lifting; weakness, pressure, or a heavy feeling in the abdomen; and a burning, aching sensation around the bulging area. Hiatal hernias can also cause acid reflux, chest pain, or difficulty swallowing.
common types of hernia
- Inguinal hernias make up about 70% of all hernias. These hernias occur when the intestines push through a weak spot or tear in the lower abdominal wall.
- Hiatal hernia occurs when part of your stomach protrudes through the diaphragm into your chest. Hiatal hernias almost always cause heartburn, which is when the stomach contents leak backward into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation. This type of hernia is most common in patients over 50 years old.
- Umbilical hernias occur when a baby’s intestines bulge through their abdominal wall near their belly button. This is the only hernia that can go away without treatment, but children may require surgery to correct an umbilical hernia if it does not resolve by their 1st birthday. This hernia would be treated by a pediatric surgeon.
- Incisional hernias can occur after abdominal surgery when the intestines push through the incision scar or the weakened surrounding tissue.
Risk factors for hernia include:
- Muscle weakness or strain
- Personal history or family history of hernias
- Being overweight
- Chronic cough
- Chronic constipation
- Damage from injury or surgery
- Smoking (which can cause coughing fits)