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What is Hernia? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Hernia is a condition that occurs when an internal organ or tissue bulges out through a weak spot in the surrounding muscle or tissue. Hernias can occur in various body parts, including the groin, abdomen, and upper thigh.

The causes of herniacan vary, but often involve a combination of genetics, age, and lifestyle factors such as heavy lifting or straining during bowel movements. The symptoms of hernia can also vary depending on the type and severity of the hernia, but often include a visible bulge or lump, pain or discomfort, and nausea and vomiting. 

Hernia treatment options depend on the type and severity of the hernia and may range from watchful waiting to hernia surgery. In the following sections, we will explore the different types of hernias, their causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options in more detail.

Types of Hernia

There are several types of hernias that can occur in different parts of the body. Some of the most common types of hernias include:

Inguinal Hernia

This type of hernia occurs when part of the intestine or fatty tissue bulges through a weak spot in the groin area. Inguinal hernias are more common in men than women and can be caused by a combination of factors, including aging, chronic coughing, and heavy lifting. 

Femoral Hernia

This type of hernia occurs when part of the intestine or fatty tissue protrudes through the femoral canal, a small opening in the upper thigh. Femoral hernias are more common in women than men and can be caused by factors such as pregnancy, obesity, and straining during bowel movements.

Umbilical Hernia

This type of hernia occurs when part of the intestine or fatty tissue bulges through a weak spot in the abdominal wall near the belly button. Umbilical hernias are common in infants but can also occur in adults due to factors such as obesity, pregnancy, and chronic coughing.

Incisional Hernia

This type of hernia occurs when part of the intestine or fatty tissue bulges through a surgical incision or scar in the abdominal wall. Incisional hernias can be caused by factors such as obesity, infection, and wound-healing complications. 

Hiatal Hernia

This type of hernia occurs when part of the stomach bulges through the diaphragm into the chest cavity. Hiatal hernias are more common in people over 50 and can be caused by factors such as obesity, pregnancy, and smoking.

In summary, hernias can occur in various parts of the body and have different causes and treatment options depending on the type and severity of the hernia. It's essential to seek medical attention if you suspect you have a hernia.

Causes of Hernia

What Causes Hernias? Hernias can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Strain: Activities that involve heavy lifting, persistent coughing, or straining during bowel movements can put pressure on the abdominal wall, causing hernias to form.
  • Age: As you age, the muscles in your abdominal wall weaken, making hernias more likely to develop.
  • Congenital defects: Some people are born with weak abdominal walls, making them more susceptible to hernias.
  • Previous surgery: If you've had abdominal surgery in the past, the scar tissue can weaken the abdominal wall, leading to hernias.
  • Chronic disease: Certain medical conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and obesity can increase your risk of developing hernias.

Remember, hernias can develop for a variety of reasons, but they all share the same common feature: a weakening of the abdominal wall that allows tissue to protrude through. 

Symptoms of Hernia

The symptoms of a hernia can vary depending on the type and location of the hernia. However, some common symptoms of hernias include:

  • Visible bulge or swelling: A visible bulge or swelling in the affected area is often a telltale sign of a hernia.
  • Pain or discomfort: Hernias can cause pain or discomfort, especially when bending over, lifting heavy objects, or coughing.
  • Weakness or pressure: You may feel a sense of weakness or pressure in the affected area, especially after standing or sitting for long periods of time.
  • Nausea or vomiting: In some cases, hernias can cause nausea or vomiting, especially if they become trapped or incarcerated.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to seek medical attention right away. In some cases, hernias can cause serious complications if left untreated. Your doctor can help determine the best course of treatment for your hernia based on your specific symptoms and medical history.

Diagnosis of Hernia

If you suspect you have a hernia, your doctor will likely perform a physical exam to check for the presence of a visible bulge or swelling. They may also ask you about your symptoms and medical history to help determine the type and location of the hernia.

In some cases, your doctor may also order imaging tests, such as an ultrasound, X-ray, or CT scan, to get a better look at the affected area. These tests can help your doctor identify the size and location of the hernia and rule out other possible causes of your symptoms.

If your hernia is causing severe pain or complications, such as bowel obstruction or strangulation, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair the hernia. However, in some cases, small hernias that are not causing symptoms may not require immediate treatment and can be monitored over time.

It's important to discuss your symptoms and treatment options with your doctor to determine the best course of action for your specific situation.

Hernia Treatment Options

If you have a hernia, treatment options will vary depending on the type of hernia, the severity of symptoms, and other factors. Here are some common hernia treatment options:

Watchful waiting

In some cases, your doctor may recommend watchful waiting, especially if your hernia is small and not causing any symptoms. This means your doctor will monitor your hernia over time to see if it changes or becomes more severe.

Lifestyle changes

Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to help manage your hernia symptoms. This may include maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding heavy lifting or straining, and eating a high-fiber diet to prevent constipation.


In some cases, medications may help alleviate hernia symptoms. For example, antacids may be prescribed for hiatal hernias to reduce acid reflux symptoms.

Hernia surgery (3600)

If your hernia is causing significant discomfort or other complications, your doctor may recommend surgery. Here are some types of hernia surgery:

Open surgery

In this traditional surgery, your surgeon makes a large incision over the hernia and repairs it using sutures or mesh.

Laparoscopic surgery

In this minimally invasive surgery, your surgeon makes several small incisions and uses a tiny camera to guide small surgical instruments to repair the hernia.

Robotic-assisted surgery

In this type of surgery, your surgeon uses a robotic system to repair the hernia. This may be a good option for complex or hard-to-reach hernias.

Hernia operation (3600)

Hernia operation is another term for hernia surgery. It refers to any surgical procedure used to repair a hernia.

Hernia Surgery Recovery

Hernia surgery is a common procedure that is performed to treat different types of hernias. After surgery, it is important to take proper care to ensure a smooth recovery. The recovery process may vary depending on the type of surgery, the extent of the hernia, and the patient's overall health.

Postoperative care plays a crucial role in the recovery process. The doctor will provide instructions for wound care, pain management, and medication use. It is important to follow the doctor's instructions carefully to avoid complications and promote healing. Patients may experience pain, swelling, and discomfort in the days following the surgery.

It is important to gradually return to normal activities after surgery. Patients are advised to rest for the first few days after the surgery and then gradually resume light activities. It is important to avoid lifting heavy objects or engaging in strenuous activities for several weeks following the surgery.

Patients may need to attend follow-up appointments with the doctor to monitor the healing process and ensure that there are no complications. With proper care and follow-up, most patients can resume their normal activities within a few weeks of surgery.

Prevention of Hernia

Hernias can often be prevented by taking certain precautions and making healthy lifestyle choices. Here are some steps you can take to help prevent a hernia:

Maintaining a healthy weight

Excess weight can put additional strain on the abdominal muscles, increasing the risk of a hernia. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can help reduce the risk.

Eating a high-fiber diet

A diet high in fiber can help prevent constipation and straining during bowel movements, which can increase the risk of a hernia. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are excellent sources of fiber.

Avoiding heavy lifting and straining

Lifting heavy objects or straining during bowel movements can put a strain on the abdominal muscles and increase the risk of a hernia. It's important to use proper lifting techniques and avoid heavy lifting when possible.

Quitting smoking

Smoking can weaken the abdominal muscles and increase the risk of a hernia. Quitting smoking can help reduce the risk of developing a hernia, as well as many other health benefits.

By following these steps, you can help reduce your risk of developing a hernia and maintain good overall health.

Final Thoughts

Hernias can be painful and uncomfortable condition, but with proper treatment and care, they can be managed effectively. From watchful waiting to hernia surgery, there are a variety of treatment options available. Additionally, taking steps to prevent hernias through healthy lifestyle choices can also be beneficial. If you suspect you may have a hernia, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. With the right approach, individuals with hernias can regain their quality of life and return to their normal activities.