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Inguinal Hernia

Inguinal Hernias are the most common type of hernia. The abdominal wall acts as a container which keeps abdominal contents such as organs and intestines in place. Groin hernias make up for 75 percent of all abdominal-wall hernias. Studies show that men are 25 times more likely to suffer from this health condition.

Inguinal Hernias occur when parts of the small intestine or intra-abdominal fat protrudes through a weak area in the lower abdominal muscles. An inguinal hernia usually occurs in the groin area or the area between the abdomen and thigh. The term “Inguinal" refers to the weak area in the inguinal ring (opening of the inguinal canal) where protrusions occur. There are two types of inguinal hernias; direct and indirect inguinal hernias.

inguinal-hernia image

Direct Inguinal Hernias are caused by connective tissue degeneration of abdominal muscles which occurs with aging. This type of hernia occurs only in males. This medical condition happens when fat or part of the intestines slides through an opening into the groin area. Direct hernias develop with time, continuous pressure or stress weakens the abdominal muscles.

Factors which contribute to abdominal muscle weakening include:

- Lifting heavy objects without abdominal muscle support

- Pressure or strain on the muscles due to weight gain

- Constipation which puts stress on the abdominal muscles

- Chronic cough

- Sudden and rapid pulling movements

Indirect Ingunial Hernia. These are also called congenital areas or hernias caused by abnormal growth and development during pregnancy. Indirect hernias occur in both sexes but are more common in males. This is mainly due to how males develop during pregnancy. The spermatic cord and testicles originate from an intra-abdominal location, these normally descends to the scrotum by way of the inguinal canal. When the inguinal ring does not close just after birth, this leaves an abnormal opening or leaves a weakness in the abdominal wall. Premature infants are more prone to develop inguinal hernias because of there is lesser time for the inguinal canal to normally close.

Symptoms of Inguinal Hernia

Inguinal hernias may develop symptoms or asymptomatic (produces no symptoms). If not diagnosed and treated early this condition could produce dangerous complications associated with strangulated hernias.

  • Abnormal lump in the groin area
  • Pain associated with activities such as lifting or movement which is relieved with rest
  • Weakness or pressure in the groin area
  • Burning or aching feeling

Inguinal Hernia Treatment

Abnormal openings caused by weakened abdominal muscles or failure of the inguinal canal to close after birth is only treated by surgery. This abnormal opening does not heal with time; neither can any amount or type of medicine can close the opening.

Hernia is not a medical condition that should be taken lightly. Although hernia is not generally considered as an emergency medical condition, this certainly affects a person’s quality of life. Eliminating some misconceptions about a disease and providing accurate information is an effective way of promoting and maintaining good health in the community.

written by Ronald Uy, RN

© H.I.C. Digestive Health 2009

Sources:

Hernia. Retrieved Sept 23, 2009 from eMedicineHealth: http://www.emedicinehealth.com
Do you have a hernia? Retrieved Sept 24, 2009 from Hernia Information Homepage: http://www.hernia.org/
Hernia. Retrieved Sept 24, 2009 from MedlinePlus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov


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