Every disease and the medical condition has complications that range from mild to severe. A hernia is a medical condition where internal organs or tissues push through the muscle wall that holds them in their position. If a hernia is left untreated, it can lead to severe complications such as swelling & pain at the site of the hernia, strangulation, and obstruction. Throughout this article, we will be discussing hernia, its complications, and how to prevent them.
What is Hernia?
A bulge or a lump will be developed if the tissues, fat, and internal organs push through any weak muscle. This bulge or lump is called a hernia and can occur in the body regions such as the lower abdomen, groin or inner thigh, belly button, diaphragm, and upper or central part of the abdomen.
Why is Hernia caused/developed?
Hernia can be a congenital [birth-defect] or can develop during aging. In most of the cases, there is no reason behind the development of a hernia. However, people of all age groups are prone to developing a hernia. The risk of hernia increases along with age and is more commonly seen in men than women. Few of the daily activities and medical problems that can cause hernia are:
- Birth-defect in the diaphragm [congenital diaphragm]: Diaphragm may underdevelop in few babies during prenatal development and leaves a hole on the diaphragm. This results in the movement of the abdominal organs into the chest cavity.
- Weak abdominal muscle wall: As one ages, the abdominal wall [peritoneum] of an individual can become weak and it no longer holds the internal organs or tissues in their position.
- Straining to urinate or bowel movements: Straining can put excessive pressure on the abdomen that can lead to a hernia. So, please avoid straining.
- Smoking: Smoking can result in chronic coughing that puts a large amount of pressure on the abdomen and can result in a hernia.
- Lifting or carrying heavy objects and weights: By doing this, one creates a pressure that is enough to push the intestinal parts through a weak muscle and cause a hernia.
- Pregnancy: During pregnancy, more pressure is applied inside the stomach as the belly keeps growing. This will cause the stomach wall to become weaker & thinner.
Other reasons for hernia may include cystic fibrosis, chronic cough or sneezing, obesity [overweight], poor nutrition, peritoneal dialysis, enlarged prostate, over-exercising [strenuous activity], enlarged prostate, scar tissue that doesn’t heal properly, undescended testicles [cryptorchidism], excessive pressure on the abdomen, and a pre-existing weak spot in the abdominal wall.
Complications involved in Hernia:
If the bulge or hernia can’t be pushed back in, then the hernia becomes incarcerated or irreducible. This incarcerated hernia can progress to a strangulated hernia, where the blood supply to the hernia is cut off. At this stage, one can suffer from serious complications that require immediate medical attention or medical surgery. Complications that are involved in hernia are:
- Tissue death due to strangulation
- Severe pain at the site of the hernia
- Obstruction of intestines
- Absence of defecation
- Chronic vomiting and nausea
- Painful swelling in the scrotum
Prevent the complications of a Hernia:
One cannot prevent the congenital [birth-defect] hernia and muscle weakness, so the amount of strain and pressure applied to the muscle and tissues can be reduced. This helps an individual to avoid a hernia and to reduce the risk of existing hernia from getting worse. Following are a few of the measures that may help in preventing hernia.
- Consult the doctor when you are experiencing a persistent cough
- Quit smoking as it helps to reduce the risk of developing several diseases
- Avoid straining during urination and bowel movements
- Maintain a healthy weight and BMI
- Participate in light physical activities
- Perform simple exercises daily for about 30-60 minutes
- Avoid lifting too heavyweights or while lifting, always bend from knees
- Discuss with your doctor regarding the diet plan and the best exercises
- Eat fiber-rich food items like fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains that can prevent straining and constipation
- Avoid heavy meals
- Do not consume spicy foods as they can cause heartburn or acid reflux
If hernias are left untreated, they become more severe that leads to strangulation and obstruction. To avoid such things, consult the doctor when you notice any symptom of hernia. Besides, even after surgical treatment of hernia, one can have complications such as infection, rejection of the mesh, and recurrence of a hernia. So, please follow all the preventive measures and instructions provided by your doctor for happy health.