An abdomen swelling is known as a hernia. It typically presents as a bulge on the abdominal wall or in the groin. In this condition, a weak muscle pushes an internal organ out of the abdominal cavity. The symptoms are usually abdominal discomfort and visible swelling in the affected area.
Causes of Hernia
Any action that increases pressure in the abdomen can cause a hernia. Weight lifting, digestive issues, such as diarrhea and chronic constipation, persistent coughing, or respiratory disorders, such as COPD, are just a few examples. Combined with either of the two main causes, these factors cause a hernia –
Abdominal pressure – If the abdominal pressure increases, the organs may press against the muscles covering them, causing a hernia. The organs usually pass through the gaps between the muscles.
Muscle weakness – Hernias can be caused by weak abdominal muscles. Muscle weakness can occur at birth or later in life. Multiple pregnancies can also weaken muscles.
Symptoms and diagnosis
When a hernia occurs, there is a bulge in the affected area. It appears below the chest and above the hips in the abdominal area. The bulge can disappear when you lie down and appear when you stand up. When you cough or lift something heavy, it can also protrude more when you apply pressure from inside.
Pain and swelling at the affected site are common symptoms.
Hernias come in various forms depending on where they occur – inguinal, femoral, umbilical, periumbilical, lumbar, and hiatus to name a few. The symptoms vary, depending on the type of hernia. In the case of a hiatus hernia, the symptoms are different. It manifests with acidity, heartburn, difficulty swallowing, and even acid reflux. Despite antacids and other medications, these symptoms persist.
If you suspect you have a hernia, your doctor can perform a routine physical examination. Doctors might also recommend a USG or CT scan to confirm in some cases.
An effective and common way to treat a hernia is through hernia repair surgery.
Depending on the approach, there are 3 types of hernia repair:
Open surgery – Traditionally, this is how hernias are repaired. An incision is made in the affected area of the body. The tissue that protrudes through the muscles is stitched back into place through the cut.
Laparoscopic surgery – In laparoscopic surgery, small incisions are made around the site of surgery so the surgical tools can be inserted into the abdomen. In these small incisions of less than 1 cm, the hernia is repaired.
Robotic surgery – Modern hernia surgery is performed using a machine. A surgeon operates the machine, or robot, as it is called. The surgery is also performed through small incisions.
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Choosing the approach to treatment depends on the patient and the physician, and is mutually decided by both parties.
An untreated hernia can cause excruciating pain along with obstruction or, in some cases, strangulation of internal organs. Some cases may require emergency surgery.
Therefore, if you notice any symptoms, you should get yourself checked.