5 Signs You May Have A Hernia & What to Do About it

5 Signs You  May Have A Hernia  & What to Do About it

A hernia is a protrusion of an organ through an area in the body in which it normally resides. Although hernias commonly occur in the abdomen if part of the intestine, bowel, or bladder pushes through a weak spot in the muscle wall, they can also develop in the upper thigh, belly button, groin, and chest.

There are a multitude of reasons hernias occur explains Dr. Emanuel Nogueira of St. Luke’s Upper Bucks Surgical Group. “Male or female, young or old, they’re relatively common and we’re all susceptible.  Anything that causes an increase in pressure on an already weak tissue can expedite it. Although it can be congenital or present at birth, it is more often caused from lifting or moving heavy objects, straining during a bowel movement, or chronic coughing.”

In some cases, there may be no visible signs it exists; in others a hernia is symptomatic and creates visible bulging, pain and discomfort. A hernia causing pain may indicate that its strangulated, a serious condition requiring immediate medical attention because it cuts off blood supply to the intestines and abdomen. Although exercise, maintaining proper weight and smoking cessation can help to prevent a hernia, it will never repair itself or go away on its own.

5 Signs You May Have Hernia

• you can feel or see a lump in the groin or abdominal region

• you have increasing pain when you cough or make a bowel movement 

• you have pain or a burning sensation in the abdomen or scrotal region 

• you have increased pain from standing for long periods

• you have increased prolonged heartburn or discomfort when eating

Repair to a hernia is a function of age, general health, type, and severity. The tear or hole can be as small as a dime or as large as a dinner plate and fixing it requires a surgeon to move the protrusion of the hernia back into the abdominal cavity. Following repair, the weakened tissue that contributed to the problem is closed and reinforced with stitching or synthetic mesh.

Some surgeries require an incision that can vary from three to six inches; others can be done laparoscopically, a minimally invasive procedure in which the incision can be less than a centimeter. Simple repairs for an umbilical hernia can be performed in as little as twenty minutes. More complex procedures can take several hours. In most instances, repair is performed as an outpatient procedure and the patient is able to go home the same day with lifting restrictions up to eight weeks.

For a hernia that is not bulging or causing discomfort, repairing it immediately will prevent it from becoming more serious, creating additional problems, or becoming strangulated. “Whether a hernia is asymptomatic and pain free or symptomatic and bulging it should always be addressed as soon as possible using a health network and physician certified as a center of excellence. Every case is unique and different and personalized care for my patients is vitally important. Choosing a specialized surgeon familiar with all of the treatment options is always recommended,” says Nogueira.

In health care, a center of excellence is established by a medical specialty’s professional society, a government entity such as the National Cancer Institute, or a consumer group organized in response to a disease.
A free community hernia information talk and screening is available on Tuesday, July 10th from 6-8 pm at the Dimmig Education Center, Rooms A&B, at St. Luke’s Allentown Campus. To register, call St. Luke’s InfoLink toll-free at 1-866-ST-LUKES or register at go.activecalendar.com/sluhn/

Dr. Emanuel F. Nogueira, a Lehigh Valley native, attended medical school at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. He completed his General Surgery Residency at St. Luke’s University Health Network and was fellowship trained in minimally invasive surgery at Brown University, Rhode Island Hospital. Dr. Nogueira is a member of the American College of Surgeons and is Chief of Surgery and Director of the Hernia Center of Excellence at St. Luke’s University Health Network, Quakertown Campus.


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