What Is A Hernia?
A hernia occurs (most typically in the abdomen) as the wall or lining of a cavity is weakened and the organs meant to stay within that cavity slip out, creating a bulge. These bulges typically include fat tissue and intestines. Most people are familiar with abdominal hernias, but may fail to realize that hernias can happen in other areas of the body as well. Although typically not life-threatening, sometimes, hernias can become strangulated, which constitutes a medical emergency. Therefore, becoming more acquainted with the different forms of hernias and the symptoms of strangulated hernias can actually save your life.
Common Types of Hernias
The most common types of hernias involve the abdominal wall, and can be genetic or acquired later in life. Inguinal hernias are by far the more prevalent of these and occur in the groin area. As the name implies, incisional hernias happen in areas of former surgical repair in the abdomen, while epigastric hernias occur between the ribcage and belly button, and are often comprised of only fatty tissue. More rare types of hernias include the femoral hernia, which bulges in the mid-thigh region, and the spigelian hernia, which occurs to the side of the tummy. While hernias can be unsightly and a nuisance, they typically aren't dangerous unless they become strangulated. Symptoms of non-strangulated hernias include occasional pain or tenderness (but may not be tender to the touch) and increased size of the bulge when the pressure inside the abdomen is increased, such as when sneezing. Also, in the early stages, hernias are often easily pushed back into place, but they may become larger over time, making them irreducible.
Strangulated Hernia Symptoms and Treatment
Strangulated hernias refer to hernias that have their blood supply cut off. When this occurs, any tissue in the hernia, such as intestines, can become ischemic and die quickly. This means that quick surgery is imperative to save the herniated tissue. Strangulated hernias can be differentiated from regular hernias in that they are irreducible, are always painful, are tender to the touch, and sometimes are accompanied by symptoms of nausea, vomiting and fever. Also, the affected person may feel ill in general. To be on the safe side, anyone with a hernia who experiences a sudden increase in pain or any of these symptoms should contact their medical provider immediately.