Ever have a hernia, more specifically, an inguinal hernia? No? Well this might help you to get a better idea of what it is.
Have you ever gotten dressed in the morning, left the house, and as you are walking about your day notice that there is a hole in the fabric of your sock and your toe pokes through? Most of us have, and an inguinal hernia is a very similar event – as long as you replace “sock” with the layer of muscle that surrounds your abdomen and the “toe” poking through with an internal organ or fat.
Sounds a little frightening? It is. And just add to that, in many cases, you can actually “push” the blue back in….gross.
Typically, an inguinal hernia isn’t a medical emergency. Treatment varies on the hernia’s size, symptoms and the age of the patient. However, it should be noted that hernias, like many things, don’t heal themselves, and in time and when ignored, they can worse – much, much worse.
Getting back to basics, an inguinal hernia occurs when a sec of intestine or fat breaks through a weak area or tear in the abdominal wall. These types of hernias are further divided into two types: direct and indirect.
According to Dr. Joseph Talarico, one of four general surgeons at Thompson health, an “indirect inguinal hernia is caused by an abdominal wall defect that is present at birth. It happens more often in boys than girls. Premature infants are also more likely to be born with this type of hernia. Although rarely an emergency, an indirect inguinal hernia should be corrected through surgery as soon as possible.
“A direct inguinal hernia usually occurs in adult men. It develops slowly after years of continuous pressure or stress on the abdominal wall.”
Chronic constipation and straining of the bowels are both symptoms of this type of hernia and if you are older than 40, have a family history of hernia, are overweight, smoke and/or lift heavy objects regularly, you are at an increased risk. However, this is only at the beginning.
Over time, inguinal hernias can grow larger and with their growth comes an increase in potential problems.
Talarico says it’s important for persons with a hernia to visit a doctor once a hernia is symptomatic with pain, tenderness or swelling.
If a hernia is ignored, one serious condition that can occur is known as incarceration, in which the hernia gets trapped, or strangulated, and can’t be pushed back in.
“What was an easy operation now becomes an emergency,” Talarico says.
As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and in the case of inguinal hernias, seeking treatment early on can save you a lot of time, pain and inconvenience later.