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What is an Inguinal Hernia?


A hernia is a condition where an organ pushes through a weakness or hole in the muscular wall (the peritoneum), creating a bulge or lump in that area. While there are five different types of hernia, the most common is inguinal; a hernia that develops in the groin area. Inguinal hernias can also be classified into types: indirect and direct.

Indirect inguinal hernias general develop at birth when the inguinal canal does not close, leaving an area in the belly exposed and at risk for a hernia. With this type of hernia, the protruding bulge will appear in a man’s scrotum, and alternatively appear in a fold of skin in the opening of a women’s vagina. A direct inguinal hernia develops in the same area as an indirect type, except the root cause of this hernia is heavy lifting, straining, or chronic coughing. Those who are overweight might be more susceptible to inguinal hernias, and men seem to develop this condition more than woman.

So what are the symptoms of an inguinal hernia? There are times where some who have hernias simply don’t experience anything out of the ordinary, until a doctor spots something during an annual visit. However, with inguinal hernia (whether they are direct or indirect) an individual will first notice a lump or bulge in their groin area. Sometimes it can take weeks or months for a hernia lump to appear, and there times where a person sees it instantly: especially if that someone has just taken part in a heavy lifting project. It might be painful, swollen, and tender to the touch; and it can have a burning association with it. The pain may intensify when a person is walking, exercising, coughing, sneezing, or even laughing – and it will subside once the individual lies down or relaxes. As a hernia continues to go untreated, some individuals experience nausea and vomiting with the condition.

If you think you may have an inguinal hernia, it is recommended to book an appointment to see your doctor, as soon as possible. Inguinal hernias that are left untreated can cause serious complications. Firstly, and incarcerated hernia can occur when fat or a small intestine from the abdomen gets lodged in the groin, and cannot be placed back. If this goes undetected, the blood supply moving to a small intestine is compromised, and another complication can occur, known as strangulation. An emergency situation, this lack of blood can cause the intestine to shut down entirely. Rather than delay the inevitable, visit your doctor just to be safe. A physician will be able to diagnose a hernia, through a physical examination, X-rays, or an ultrasound.