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Lifting. Sneezing. Coughing

Setting the Stage for Hernia

It can happen to the strongest among us.You go to lift something you’ve lifted a thousand times before and you feel a pop in your groin. Or you cough suddenly, or sneeze – especially relevant during allergy season – and you feel that same pop.After the pop, comes a bulge. Sometimes, it appears gradually.

It’s called an inguinal hernia, the most common type of hernia. And although the condition is more frequently seen in men, it does occur in both sexes.

A hernia is painful and difficult to manage for even the toughest constitutions, but treatment is available.It is typical, however, for some of us to attempt to ignore the situation and hope for the best. Sufferers might wear a truss, belt, or other garment in an effort to apply pressure on the hernia and keep it from popping out. These appliances are relatively affordable and might offer temporary symptomatic relief for smaller hernias. For large and painful hernias, however, surgery is necessary, as a hernia will not repair itself.

Interestingly, some inguinal hernias don’t hurt at all, but the bulge is usually a telltale indicator that a loop of bowel has migrated through a weak area in the inner part of your body wall, and is lying under the skin. Some other symptoms of hernia may include a heavy sensation or pressure in the groin, or a feeling of weakness.Rarely, men will experience pain and swelling in the scrotum if the intestine descends into the scrotum.

You should be able to gently push the hernia back into your abdomen while you’re lying down. If you can’t push it back in, it’s Important to see a physician quickly. The bowel loop might be trapped, which can lead to dangerous, even life-threatening complications. Nausea, vomiting, fever, and severe pain usually accompany this condition, called incarceration. The bulge might become discolored. If any of these symptoms are present, see a healthcare provider immediately.

There are many possible causes of inguinal hernias, including heavy lifting, but increased pressure in your abdomen from coughing, sneezing, or straining can cause or worsen a hernia as well. It’s also possible that you may have been born with a predisposition toward hernia, or a weak spot in your groin that might make it easier for a hernia to form with what seems like very little effort. You’re also more likely to develop a hernia if your father or brother had one, if you’re chronically constipated, or if you have smoker’s cough.

How is hernia treated? A small hernia that causes no pain and doesn’t get worse can be safely managed, but a painful hernia that gets larger needs surgical repair.The surgery is performed either through an incision in the groin, or laparoscopically, using several band-aid sized incisions and an operating scope. In either procedure, the weak area is closed and reinforced, typically with mesh, to hold the bowel in the abdomen.

The open procedure has a very high success rate and will usually cure the problem.The laparoscopic approach requires less healing time, but there is a slightly higher rate of recurrence. Your physician can discuss the pros and cons based on your individual case and help you to make an informed decision.

In the meantime, as spring ushers in a variety of cleaning projects and landscaping duties (That bag of mulch weighs how much?), as well as increased incidence of sneezing and coughing, it’s useful to remember that the season of new life and possibilities can also be prime hernia season.

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