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What is a Hernia?

A hernia is a protrusion of an organ or tissue through an abnormal opening in the body. Most hernias occur when a piece of intestine slips through a weakness in the abdominal wall creating a bulge you can see and feel. Hernias can develop around the naval, in the groin, or any place where you may have had a surgical incision. Some hernias are present at birth. Others develop slowly over a period of months or years.

There are two main types of hernias: hiatal and inguinal.

Hiatal Hernia

A hiatal hernia can be caused by many different things. Some of the causes are: obesity, pregnancy, tight clothing, sudden physical exertion, such as weight lifting straining, coughing and abdominal injury.

Symptoms of Hiatal Hernia

Most hiatal hernias cause no symptoms.

Inguinal Hernia

An inguinal hernia occurs in the groin. The groin is the area between the abdomen and thigh. It is called "inguinal" because the intestines push through a weak spot in the inguinal canal. The inguinal canal is a triangle-shaped opening between layers of abdominal muscle near the groin. Some of the causes of inguinal hernias are: obesity, pregnancy, heavy lifting, and straining to pass stool can cause the intestine to push against the inguinal canal.

Symptoms of Inguinal Hernia

Some of the symptoms of inguinal hernia are: a lump in the groin near the thigh; pain in the groin. In severe cases, partial or complete blockage of the intestine might occur.

Who gets Hernias?

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, approximately five million Americans have hernias. Hernias in the groin area (inguinal hernias) are most common in men, primarily because of the unsupported space left in the groin after the testicles descend into the scrotum. Hernias in the femoral area, at the top of the thigh, occur most often in women. They commonly result from pregnancy and childbirth.

Will the hernia go away?

No. An untreated hernia will not get better or go away on its own.

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