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What Causes a Hernia?

heavy lifting may cause hernia

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  • The risk of of a hernia increases as you age and occurs in men more often than women
  • Exposing your body to excess strain or stress, especially if you have weak muscles, may ultimately lead to a hernia. Having a family history of this condition may make a person more prone to it

The body is typically involved in a process of building and breaking down muscles and tissues. When the body ages, the enzymes that assist in controlling this natural process may be thrown out of balance. For example, raising the pressure within the abdominal cavity may prompt stress and allow portions of the abdominal cavity, such as organs or tissues, to protrude through a weak opening. This creates a bulge, called a hernia, that you can see and feel under the skin.1,2

The length of time it takes a hernia to develop depends on the cause. In some cases, it can already be present at birth.3 Additionally, your risk for a hernia increases as you age with the condition appearing more in men than in women.4

Weak Muscles Are a Major Risk Factor for Hernia

Some of the common causes of muscle weakness that may predispose a person to hernia are:5

  • Failure of the abdominal wall to properly close in the womb6
  • Age
  • Chronic coughing7
  • Injury
  • Surgery (incisions and poor wound healing may lead to development of weak spots in the body)

Exposing your body to instances of excess strain or stress, especially if you have weak muscles, may ultimately lead to a hernia. These include:89


Physical exertion

Persistent sneezing

Fluid in the abdomen (ascites)

Sudden weight gain10

Being overweight or obese

Other Possible Causes of a Hernia

Other medical problems and activities that may increase pressure on the abdominal wall and lead to a hernia include the following:11


Cystic fibrosis

Enlarged prostate

Peritoneal dialysis (often used to treat kidney failure)

Undescended testicles

Poor nutrition

Tumors or masses in the abdomen12

Trauma to the abdomen13

If your family has a history of hernias, this could make you prone to this condition.14 If you or someone you know is exhibiting some of these risk factors, consult a doctor immediately to find out if if a hernia is present in your body. You may also talk to your doctor about the possible ways you can prevent this condition from affecting you.


Hernia: An Introduction

What Is Hernia?

Hernia Symptoms

Hernia Causes

Types of Hernia

Hernia Treatment

Hernia Surgery

Hernia Prevention

Hernia Diet

Hernia FAQ

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