A hernia is an abnormal protrusion of abdominal organs from an opening in the abdominal wall. It is a common problem and often neglected by patients, not because of ignorance but merely because of the fact that most hernias do not cause pain unless complicated.
Most of the patients feel or can even see swelling in a certain part of their abdomen which is most of the time pain-free. The swelling appears on standing, coughing, or straining but disappears on lying down. But in some cases, it appears all of a sudden with severe pain and hard swelling. The later presentation is dangerous and if neglected can turn into a fatal event.
Which areas are prone to hernia formation?
Certain areas of our abdomen are relatively weaker areas and it is this weak area that is prone to hernia formation. The most common sites are an inguinal region which is the place near the junction of the abdomen with thighs, umbilicus (belly button), and at the previous surgery site. There are a few other rare sites of hernia formation as well.
Why hernia forms
Pressures inside our abdomen is high which tends to push organs inside the abdomen to outside. The relatively weaker areas give way early and lead to protrusion of intestines etc. leading to hernia formation.
Factors predisposing to hernia formation
Chronic cough, straining, heavy weight lifting, smoking, high intra-abdominal pressure because of fluid inside the abdomen for example in ascites because of cirrhosis, any abdominal surgery.
What to do if u suspect hernia formation
One should immediately consult a surgeon preferably a hernia surgeon. In almost all cases clinical examination is enough to arrive at a diagnosis. Radiological tests are done to look for predisposing factors, other incidental diseases, and many times just for patient satisfaction.
Surgery is the only treatment. There is no alternative to surgery. How to get the surgery done: open surgery, laparoscopic surgery or robotic surgery is a different issue.
Timing for surgery
This is the most important question that comes into the mind of a patient. And the answer is: as soon as possible and immediately if the pain is there.
One should remember: hernia is like ice cream and not a fruit. Just like we eat ice cream quickly before melting it, we do not wait for it to melt, similarly, a hernia operation should be done immediately and one should not wait for complications to happen. We wait for a fruit to ripe and then once ripens we eat the fruit. This is not the case with a hernia.
Hernia signifies mechanical defect/ failure in the abdominal wall and like any other such defect repairing and reinforcement is the only answer. Act before it is too late. Eat the ice cream before it melts.