Hernia Awareness Month

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, some five million Americans have a hernia. Yet, only about 750,000 Americans seek treatment each year.The balance do not because they perceive surgery, the only way to treat a hernia, to be an inconvenience to their daily lifestyle and those around them. Others perceive surgery to be a major invasive procedure that requires an extended hospital stay, followed by a long and painful period of recovery.

A hernia is a protrusion of an organ or tissue through an abnormal opening in the body. You may notice it as a lump in your abdomen or groin that may or may not disappear when you lay down or press on it. A hernia will not get better on its own. Fortunately for patients and their physicians, there are a variety of safe, simple and quick surgical procedures that can eliminate these worries in some patients and have them back to their daily activities in very little time. Hernia repairs are common, and routine surgical procedures, tools and technologies have evolved accordingly. There are four main types of hernia:

  • Femoral hernia: This is a bulge in the upper thigh, below the groin. It is more common among women than men.
  • Hiatel hernia: This occurs in the upper part of the stomach. The upper part of the stomach pushes into the chest.
  • Incisional hernia: This occurs situations where you have had abdominal surgery in the past.
  • Inguinal hernia: This is in the form of a bulge in the groin. Seen commonly in men, this hernia can go all the way down into the scrotum.

There is no direct cause of hernias. Sometimes, they occur with heavy lifting, straining while passing bowels or any activity that increases the pressure inside the abdomen. It may be present at birth but the bulge might not be noticeable until later in life. Some people have a family history of hernias. Infants and young children may suffer from hernias too. They occur when there is weakness in the abdominal wall.

There are no known symptoms of a hernia apart from discomfort and pain. This pain or discomfort is worse while standing, straining or lifting heavy objects. A common symptom is a bump that becomes sore and grows. When a hernia gets bigger, it may obstruct a passage and block blood supply. Other common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, gas, and constipation. At this stage, a surgery is needed at the earliest.

A hernia can be uncomfortable, unsightly, painful and even cause life threatening complications. Don’t let a hernia restrict you and keep you from the activities you enjoy. Now that you know all that you must about hernias, it is important that you take the proper measures to curb them. Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and get regular check-ups from your doctor. Knowing is half the battle, and this month, let’s do out best to educate our friends and loved ones about this condition. Then, be sure to see your physician for an evaluation to help safeguard your health and comfort.

Celeste Botonakis

On the Nursing Assistant Guides blog, certified medical assistant Celeste Botonakis explores the daily life of a CMA. She'll keep you up-to-date with the latest on what’s happening in the field, and provides tips for those who are interested in becoming a medical or nursing assistant. Celeste has served in the medical field for over six years, and is passionate about helping people. She currently works at CSR Primary Care in Skokie, Illinois. Click here to learn more about Celeste Botonakis and NursingAssistantGuides.com.