By Dr. Manpreet Grewal
A hernia occurs when an internal organ or other body part protrudes through a weak spot in the surrounding muscle or tissue. Most hernias occur between the chest and the hips.
A hernia may produce a prominent lump or bulge that can be pushed back in, or that may disappear when lying down. Laughing, crying, coughing, straining, or other physical activity may make the lump reappear after it has been pushed in.
Different types of hernias include:
- Inguinal hernia: fatty tissue or a part of the intestine pokes into the groin at the top of the inner thigh. This is the most common type of hernia, and affects men more than women.
- Femoral hernia: Fatty tissue or part of the intestine protrudes into the groin at the top of the inner thigh. Femoral hernias are much less common than inguinal hernias and primarily affect older women. However, both inguinal and femoral hernias are the result of weakened muscles, whether they have been present since birth or are associated with aging and repeated strain from physical exertion, obesity, pregnancy, frequent coughing, or straining on the toilet due to constipation.
- Umbilical hernia: Fatty tissue or part of the intestine pushes through the abdomen near the belly button.
- Hiatal hernia: Part of the stomach pushes up into the chest cavity through an opening in the diaphragm.
- Incisional hernia: Tissue protrudes through the site of an abdominal scar from a remote abdominal or pelvic operation.
- Epigastric hernia: Fatty tissue protrudes between the navel and lower part of the sternum .
- Spigelian hernia: The intestine pushes through the abdomen at the side of the abdominal muscle, below the belly button.
- Diaphragmatic hernia: Organs in the abdomen move into the chest through an opening in the diaphragm.
If left untreated, hernias will not improve. Doctors generally recommend surgery to repair a hernia.