Hernias are a common issue that can affect men, women, and even children. Most are not painful. It’s best not to ignore a hernia, however, since some can become life-threatening.
Our team at Eastside Bariatric & General Surgery, led by bariatric and general surgeon Dr. Aliu Sanni, is committed to providing you with the information you need to make informed decisions about your health.
Here’s what we’d like you to know about the most common types of hernia and the symptoms they can cause.
Common hernia types and symptoms
A hernia occurs when organs or other internal tissue structures push through a weak area in the muscular wall holding them in place. Most develop in the abdomen or groin and may remain small and asymptomatic.
Some hernias, however, can grow quite large and cause varying degrees of pain. As the compromised tissue tears further, it allows the nearby organ structures to protrude further into the space between your skin and muscles.
Hernias are identified by their location, the most common of which include:
These types of hernias are the most common and occur much more frequently in men than women.
Located in the lower abdominal wall, one on each side, the inguinal canal is a hollow channel that connects the spermatic cord and blood vessels to the testicles in adult males. In women, this passageway holds the inguinal ligament, which supports the uterus.
An inguinal hernia allows fatty or intestinal tissue to push into the canal, causing symptoms such as:
- Area of swelling in the groin or scrotum that typically becomes larger when you stand
- Varying degrees of pain at the site of the bulge that may enlarge over time
- Discomfort that worsens with lifting
Complications related to an inguinal hernia include strangulation. This occurs when blood flow is restricted to the intestine as it pushes into the canal. A strangulated hernia can quickly become a life-threatening emergency.
An inguinal hernia will not go away on its own and, as is the case with most types, is much easier to correct via a minimally invasive surgical procedure (hernia repair) when still small.
A ventral hernia is generally defined as any type that occurs along the vertical center of the abdominal wall and may include:
- Epigastric hernia, which can develop anywhere from the breastbone to the navel
- Umbilical hernia, located in the area near the belly button
- Incisional hernia that develops at the site of a previous abdominal surgery
A hiatal hernia develops in the internal muscle (diaphragm) that separates your chest and abdomen at the hiatus. The hiatus is a small opening where the muscular tube (esophagus) that carries food from your mouth joins the stomach.
This type of hernia allows your stomach to bulge upward through the hiatus. Typically developing after age 50, a hiatal hernia may cause:
- Acid reflux (heartburn)
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chest or upper abdominal pain that typically occurs with or shortly after a meal
- Shortness of breath
- Regurgitation of foods or fluids into the esophagus
While a small hiatal hernia may not cause any symptoms, these types of hernias can become quite problematic and may require surgery if they enlarge.
For more information about hernia types and treatments, or any of the other surgical services we offer, schedule a visit with Dr. Sanni at Eastside Bariatric & General Surgery today.