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Common Signs and Symptoms of Hernias to Watch Out For

man with umbilical hernia

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  • The most common symptom of a hernia in adult men or women is a bulge in the affected area. A hernia can most likely be felt through touch when you’re standing up, bending down or coughing
  • If left untreated, a hernia can grow and cause more pain. A portion of the intestine can also become trapped in the abdominal wall, obstruct your bowel and trigger severe pain, nausea or constipation

If there’s a bulge or lump on a certain part of your body, you may already have hernia – this is considered the most common symptom in adult men and women.1 Other typical indicators of a hernia, according to WebMD, include abdominal or groin pain after lifting or bending over, and abdominal discomfort that may lead to constipation or blood in the stool.2

A hernia can be felt when you’re standing up, bending down, coughing or lifting something heavy.3,4 If a baby has a hernia, the bulge may be noticeable while they’re crying or when they strain during a bowel movement.5

Some Indicators Are Specific to a Particular Type of Hernia

Some types of hernia have their own specific symptoms, as described by by the University of Michigan Health System:

Inguinal hernia:6

  • A round lump that appears on the groin or scrotum that may hurt or burn
  • A lump that may suddenly develop after coughing, straining, laughing or lifting heavy weights or may manifest over a period of months or weeks
  • Weakness and heaviness (aside from burning or pain) in the groin7

Hiatal hernia:8

  • Heartburn
  • Upper abdominal pain9
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may develop if signs of this hernia tend to be severe

Are There Complications Associated With Hernias?

If left untreated, a hernia can grow and cause more pain.10 According to the U.K.’s NHS, if you develop an inguinal hernia, a portion of the bowel can become trapped in the inguinal canal, triggering vomiting, nausea and stomach pain.11

Strangulation may also occur, and the trapped section of your intestine may not get sufficient blood flow.12 A strangulated hernia is a life-threatening  situation that requires immediate medical attention.13 If blood supply is already being cut off, immediate surgery may be needed.14

Lastly, a hiatal hernia may trigger symptoms of acid reflux, such as heartburn, which occurs when stomach acid enters the esophagus.15 Natural remedies may help ease this; consult a doctor on how to properly address both hiatal hernia and acid reflux.

How Is a Hernia Diagnosed?

A physical examination can often diagnose inguinal or incisional hernias.16 A doctor will look for a bulge in the abdomen or groin, or in an area located near a previous surgery that increases in size when you stand, cough or strain.17

Physical examination may also be needed for children with an umbilical hernia.18 The doctor may inspect the hernia’s size, shape and tendency to get pushed back into place.19 In some cases, an abdominal ultrasound, x-rays or blood tests may be advised to determine if there are other complications present.20 Meanwhile, patients who may possibly have hiatal hernia may need to undergo some of these diagnostic methods:21,22

  • Barium swallow: The patient drinks a liquid solution containing barium before undergoing an x-ray to determine the size of the hernia and inspect for problems in parts of the digestive tract like the esophagus and stomach.
  • Endoscopy: This involves placing a small camera tube down the throat and into the esophagus and stomach  to check for inflammation.
  • Esophageal manometry: This determines the strength and muscle coordination of the esophagus when swallowing, as well as the force and coordination delivered by the esophageal muscles.
  • pH test: This test entails measuring your esophagus’ acid levels.
  • Blood test: Some doctors may recommend patients to have their red blood cell counts checked for the possibility of anemia.

While it’s easy to have yourself checked for a hernia if you notice indicators, in many cases hernia symptoms may not manifest in men or women.23 As such, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately if you notice a bump or feel pain in any part of your body.


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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