A hernia is a condition that occurs in both men and women, although it is more common in men. Some hernias may go unnoticed, while others can cause pain and discomfort. This pain may affect your day-to-day activities like walking and exercising. You may also sometimes feel a sharp pain when you cough or sneeze.
However, some may wonder if their hernia is a condition to be concerned about or if it is safe to leave it untreated, especially when they do not experience any discomfort. In this article, we’ll discuss how serious a hernia is, when to worry about hernia pain, and what may happen to an untreated hernia.
What Is A Hernia?
The abdomen has a layer of muscle wall surrounding it, and a hernia occurs when the muscle tissue becomes weak, and an internal organ pushes through it.
There are a few different hernia types that occur in various locations. These are the most common types of hernia:
Inguinal hernias: This occurs when a portion of the intestine pushes through the inguinal canal located in the groin. This hernia affects men more than women.
Incisional hernias: This hernia occurs at an incision site from a previous procedure or surgery. It happens when the stitches are not fully healed or if they come apart
Femoral hernias: This happens when a portion of the intestine bulges through the femoral canal, located in the upper thigh. This hernia is more common in women.
Hiatal hernias: This happens when a portion of the stomach bulges up into the chest through the diaphragm, a muscle that separates the chest and abdomen.
Signs & Symptoms Of A Hernia
The different hernia types come with their own symptoms. Some common symptoms of a hernia include:
- A bulge in the groin
- Pain and discomfort around the bulge area
- Pain when laughing, coughing, lifting
A hiatal hernia has different symptoms, and you may not notice a bulge as the hernia is located within the abdomen. Hiatal hernia symptoms include heartburn, nausea, difficulty swallowing and chest pain.
Is A Hernia Dangerous?
While hernias aren’t always life-threatening, a hernia can become dangerous if it becomes a strangulated hernia. A strangulated hernia is a medical condition where part of the intestinal tissue becomes trapped in a weakened area of the abdominal wall and blood supply is lost. If a strangulated hernia is not treated, it can lead to necrosis and peritonitis, which are life-threatening complications.
Can You Live With A Hernia?
Some people may be able to live with a hernia, especially if the hernia remains small. However, hernias do not go away on their own, and surgery is the only effective treatment for a hernia. There is also a possibility of the hernia becoming strangulated in the future, which will require emergency surgery.
As you grow older, the recovery time from a surgery becomes longer, and the risks of complications become higher. Therefore, it is recommended to carry out a hernia repair surgery as soon as possible to avoid complications in the future.
When Should I Worry About A Hernia?
Hernias can cause various symptoms, including discomfort, pain, and difficulty with bowel movements. In some cases, hernias can also lead to serious complications if left untreated, such as the protruding tissue being incarcerated or strangulated.
A strangulated hernia can cause sudden pain that becomes more intense over time and may also cause you to vomit and get a fever. This is considered an emergency, and you should visit a doctor immediately.
What Happens If A Hernia Is Left Untreated?
If a hernia is left untreated, it can create an array of painful and potentially dangerous health issues. In some cases, the patient may experience abdominal pain, as the bulging mass puts pressure on nerves and organs.
The intestines or other organs within the hernia may become strangulated as blood supply is cut off. This requires emergency surgery to repair the hernia and restore blood flow, or it could lead to tissue death. This would result in internal gangrene, causing toxins to be released into the bloodstream, which could be fatal.
If left untreated for many weeks or longer, health complications such as kidney failure may also occur from constricted blood flow so it is important for hernias to be treated as soon as possible.
How Do I Know If My Hernia Needs Surgery?
The size of your hernia is one way to determine if you require hernia surgery. Hernias that are large or growing rapidly are more likely to require surgery sooner than smaller ones. If your hernia is causing pain or interfering with daily activities, it is also recommended to make an appointment for a hernia repair surgery so you can go back to your everyday activities without the constant discomfort.
Different surgeries are available for hernia repair, and your surgeon can advise on the best course of action for your condition. Dr Ganesh has treated numerous patients with various hernia conditions over his 20 years of training and experience. If you suspect that you have a hernia, do not hesitate to contact us for further assistance on our hernia treatment options.