Hernia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Hernia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

How can you  recognize a hernia ? A bulge in the groin area, sometimes with slight pain – this indicates a hernia. Unlike the  umbilical hernia  , it never resolves spontaneously. For this reason, the same applies to hernias in children as to hernias in adults: hernia =  operation . In addition to signs and symptoms, the causes, development and treatment of an inguinal hernia are discussed in the following article.

Inguinal hernia: causes and development

There are natural weak points in the body where the connective tissue is thin, because vessels and nerves penetrate there, for example, or areas where connections that existed during the development of the unborn child have not reformed later. The peritoneum can push through there together with the intestinal loops – a hernia occurs. One speaks of an inguinal hernia when the content of the hernia in the groin area is pushed outwards.

  • Congenital hernia (Hernia congenita): The hernia in children is usually based on the fact that the protuberances that exist during child development do not close properly. This congenital form is more common in boys than girls. About 1–4% of children or 20% of premature babies are affected; there is often a hereditary predisposition. The intestinal loops extend from the hernial orifice through the inguinal canal (where the spermatic cord runs in boys) under the inguinal ligament. In boys, this hernia can reach into the scrotum (scrotal hernia) and affect the testicles there; in girls, the hernia can extend into the labia (vaginal hernia). In boys, if fluid from the abdomen enters the scrotum instead of the intestinal loops, this is referred to as hydrocele.
  • Acquired inguinal hernia  (hernia acquisita): In adults, an inguinal hernia occurs as a result of constant pressure increase, for example through playing wind instruments, chronic  coughing  or heavy physical work, but also as a result of  pregnancy  or a tumor in hereditary weak points in the abdominal wall. Women are much less likely to suffer from a hernia than men.

Hernia: symptoms and signs

A soft bulge on one or both sides in the groin area that is clearly visible and can be pushed away: This is a sign of a hernia. The hernia symptoms are particularly pronounced when screaming, coughing and sneezing or when having a bowel movement. So whenever the pressure in the abdomen increases and the movable intestines are squeezed out.

The hernia in children, but also the hernia in adults, is sometimes accompanied by pulling abdominal pain or  groin pain  , which occurs mainly under stress. Severe pain is critical, especially if the abdomen feels very hard and  nausea  and vomiting occur. These symptoms can indicate a life-threatening entrapment (incarceration) of the hernia. The hernia can then usually be felt as a bulging, non-displaceable  lump  .

Hernia: Recognize and act

If you discover a bulging in the groin in your child or in yourself, consult a doctor in good time. Sometimes the pain is similar to that of a groin strain (an overstretching of the thigh muscles) – although with the latter there is no bulging in the groin. In contrast to an umbilical hernia, an inguinal hernia never resolves spontaneously.

Since the risk of entrapment is relatively high, especially in the first year of life, inguinal hernias must be closed during an inguinal hernia operation. Only in exceptional cases, for example when those affected have an extremely high risk of surgery, is an operation on the hernia avoided. In the event of an entrapment, a doctor must be consulted immediately and the operation performed as quickly as possible so that the trapped tissue does not die. In the other cases, the hernia surgery can be planned in peace.

Hernia surgery: surgical methods

Once the diagnosis of an inguinal hernia has been made, the next steps are prepared and discussed. In the case of a hernia in children, it is usually standard to operate on the hernia on an outpatient basis. If the hernia is trapped, however, a hospital stay is to be expected. In adults, surgery is usually not performed on an outpatient basis.

Depending on the type and extent of the hernia, there are different methods of surgery to close the hernia. Laparoscopic surgery is often possible, i.e. access and closure of the hernia via a very small incision using a laparoscopy.

Hernia: Duration of healing

The healing time after a hernia depends on age, previous illnesses, the type of hernia and the type of intervention. It is important to know that the skin wound heals much faster than the internal wound. Therefore, light physical activities such as  swimming  or sexual intercourse should not be started before three to four weeks after the hernia operation; Jogging and cycling must be suspended for six weeks, and heavy physical activity for several months.


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