A hernia occurs when the contents of a body cavity bulge out of the area where they are normally contained. These contents, usually portions of intestine or abdominal fatty tissue, are enclosed in the thin membrane that naturally lines the inside of the cavity. Although the term hernia can be used for bulges in other areas, it most often is used to describe hernias of the lower torso (abdominal wall hernias).
There are many different kinds of hernias. The most familiar are those that occur in the abdomen. In this type of hernia, a part of the intestines protrudes (sticks out) through the wall of the abdomen. An abdominal hernia can occur in different areas. The name given to the hernia depends on the location in which it occurs.
What causes a hernia?
Expect marked obesity to be a major factor in developing hernias. Weakened muscle tissue and poor circulation are present due to lack of exercise. Excessive weight and pressure on weak muscles is a likely source for hernias.
Recognize heavy lifting as a major contributor to the development of hernias. Those who lift heavy materials must learn good body mechanics and wear proper support to avoid putting undue stress on weak internal muscles.
Hiatal Hernia Causes: The causes of a hiatal hernia are speculative and unique to each individual. However, there are a number causes. First of all there may be a mechanical cause. Improper lifting, hard coughing bouts heavy lifting, sharp blows to the abdomen (the kind that “knock the wind out of you”), tight clothing and poor posture may contribute to the development of this problem. Improper lifting may be the biggest mechanical cause of this disorder. If the air is not expelled out of a person’s lungs while lifting, it will force the stomach into the esophagus.
Inguinal Hernia: Inguinal hernias are caused by a weakness in the abdominal wall. In some people, this weakness is congenital, which means it is present at birth. In others, it develops over time, as a result of excessive weight gain or loss, physical activity that places pressure on the abdomen, pregnancy, straining during bowel movements because of constipation, straining during urination because of an enlarged prostate, or chronic and intense coughing. Because the abdominal wall is weak, the hernia occurs during abdominal strain.
Some inguinal hernias have no apparent cause. But many occur as a result of increased pressure within the abdomen, a pre-existing weak spot in the abdominal wall or a combination of the two. In men, the weak spot usually occurs along the inguinal canal. This is the area where the spermatic cord, which contains the vas deferens, the tube that carries sperm, enters the scrotum.