What Is Hernia And What To Expect?

Ask the Doctor

Doctor, we are a little apprehensive, as my husband has been advised to undergo treatment for hernia. What exactly is hernia and what may we expect?

Hernia is a condition found to occur commonly in men, women and children too. It is a rupture that occurs when a part of an organ or tissue bulges and protrudes through the lining muscle of the cavity containing that organ. This is generally caused by muscular strain, injury, weakness of that muscle, etc.

For example the strain of lifting heavy objects may contribute to a hernia, especially when the abdominal lining muscle is weak. People born with such a weak muscle are at risk of developing a hernia. Hernias most commonly occur in the abdomen but can occur elsewhere too. They are typically categorized as follows.

Inguinal hernia

Inguinal hernia is a rupture at a weak spot in the abdominal muscles: a part of the intestine or of the membrane lining the abdominal cavity protrudes through the rupture, The ensuing bulge can be particularly painful when coughing, bending over or lifting heavy objects.

Generally an inguinal hernia is not dangerous; neither does it get better, nor disappear with time. If not treated, then it can cause life-threatening complications. It is therefore necessary to repair a painful hernia, for which surgical treatment ensuing laparoscopy is recommended. It is a common, routine procedure.

Umbilical hernia

This hernia creates a soft swelling or bulge near the navel. It occurs when part of the intestine protrudes through the umbilical opening in the abdominal muscles. Most commonly, it occurs in infants and toddlers in the age group of 1-2 years, but usually closes on its own.

Incisional hernia

Incisional or ventral hernia occurs on the abdominal wall following a surgical incision made on the belly. It can happen months or even years after surgery. Most of the time, it occurs along a vertical (up and down) incision.

Hiatal hernia

Also known as Hiatus Hernia, it occurs when a part of the stomach pushes up through the small opening (hiatus) in your diaphragm - a muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity. There are two types of hiatus hernia - paraesophageal and sliding hernias.

Congenital Diaphragmatic hernia

Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia occurs in the fetus (an unborn child developing in the womb), during its development, when the diaphragm does not fully develop. Thus the gaping hole left wide open allows the abdominal organs to push their way up into the chest cavity.


Hernias are generally repaired by surgery. Untreated hernias apart from being painful, can cause health problems.


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