An inguinal hernia is a protrusion of soft tissues which are usually a part of the intestine, via a weak point or some tear in the lower abdominal wall. With this protrusion, there may be some pain in some conditions like when coughing, bending over and lifting a heavy object.
Sometimes an inguinal hernia develops at birth when the abdominal wall weakens due to the abdominal lining not closing properly. However, inguinal hernias also develop later in life when muscles happen to weaken or deteriorate due to aging, coughing associated with smoking and strenuous physical activity. Men generally have a higher tendency to develop inguinal hernias; however it is possible for infants, pregnant women and older adults to develop inguinal hernias.
Though inguinal hernias are not dangerous, they can lead to complications that are life-threatening. Therefore painful and larger inguinal hernias require surgical repair that uses only small incisions with a less painful and faster recovery. Inguinal hernias don’t usually have any symptoms; this is why it will not be noticed until a routine medical exam. There may be a bulge created by the protruding intestine which is usually more obvious when standing upright or when coughing or straining.
Some symptoms associated with inguinal hernias are pain and discomfort in the groin, a heavy or dragging sensation in the groin and in men, the scrotum develops a pain and swelling as the protruding intestine lowers into the scrotum. Infants and men have a higher tendency of developing inguinal hernias.
Other risk factors for inguinal hernias are a family history of inguinal hernias, having a persistent or chronic cough and some dangerous medical conditions. Even people suffering from chronic constipation, obesity, those in pregnancy, infants born prematurely and some jobs requiring standing for long spans of time or heavy labor leads to inguinal hernia.
A doctor only needs a physical exam to diagnose an inguinal hernia. With negligence, inguinal hernia can leads to some complications like the intestine loop getting trapped in the weak point of the abdominal wall which may lead to a diminished flow of blood to the trapped portion of the intestine. When diagnosed, small inguinal hernias may adopt a watch and wait approach. However, painful hernias call for an operation.
It is possible to reduce strain on the abdominal muscles, and thus reducing the formation of inguinal hernias by maintaining a healthy weight, increased consumption of high-fiber foods, lifting heavy objects carefully and stopping smoking.