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What Causes a Hernia?

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heavy lifting may cause hernia

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  • The risk 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

There are multiple reasons why hernias appear but, in general, they can be linked to two main factors: aging and prolonged muscle weakness that causes some body parts to swell and move out of their normal position.1 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 bulge through a weak opening. This creates a bulge that you can see and feel under the skin.2,3

The length of time it takes a hernia to develop depends on the cause. In some cases, it can already be present at birth,4 but it may develop as you grow. The risk of having a hernia increases as you age, and this condition is known to appear more in men than in women.5

Weak Muscles Are a Major Risk Factor for Hernia

Some of the common causes of muscle weakness that may raise a person’s hernia risk include:6

  • Failure of the abdominal wall to properly close in the womb7
  • Age
  • Chronic coughing8
  • Injury
  • Surgery (incisions and poor wound healing may lead to development of weak spots in the body)

Exposing your body to excess strain or stress, especially if you have weak muscles, may ultimately lead to a hernia. These factors include:9,10

  • Pregnancy
  • Physical exertion
  • Persistent sneezing

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:12

  • Constipation
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Peritoneal dialysis (often used to treat kidney failure)
  • Undescended testicles
  • Poor nutrition
  • Tumors or masses in the abdomen13
  • Trauma to the abdomen14

If your family has a history of hernias, you may be prone to this condition.14 If you notice these risk factors, consult with a doctor immediately to find out 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 recurring.

MORE ABOUT HERNIA

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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