Inguinal hernia develops when the content of the abdomen bulges through a weaker part of the lower abdominal wall. This is commonly fat or a part of the intestine. There are two types of inguinal hernias: indirect and direct.
Indirect inguinal hernias are caused by a defect in the abdominal wall which is present at birth.
Most common in males, direct hernias develop over time and are a result of muscle weakness in the lower abdomen.
The first sign of an inguinal hernia is a small bulge in one or both sides of the groin. The size of the bulge may increase over time. Other signs and symptoms of an inguinal hernia include discomfort or pain in the groin region, feeling weak, heavy, burning, or aching in the groin, and a swollen or enlarged scrotum in males.
If not treated, inguinal hernias can lead to complications. One of them is incarceration, which develops when some fat or part of the small intestine get stuck in the groin or scrotum and cannot be get back to the abdomen. Another complication is strangulation, which occurs when the incarcerated hernia is not treated. The blood supply to the small intestine is lost and that section of the intestine may die as a result.
There are different treatment methods for an inguinal hernia. For starters, the doctor may try to massage the fat or intestine back into the abdomen. If this is unsuccessful, then surgery is required.
There are two types of surgery for inguinal hernia: open hernia repair or laparoscopy. In an open hernia repair, an incision is made in the groin to push the protruding tissue back into place and sew up the weakened area. In laparoscopic surgery, several small incisions are made in the abdomen and a tube equipped with a camera is inserted. The surgeon uses tiny instruments in order to repair the hernia.
Laparoscopic surgery is associated with less scarring and shorter recovery times, compared to open hernia repair. On the other hand, laparoscopic surgery may increase the risk of a future hernia developing.
Although you are encouraged to move in order to recover from hernia surgery, your doctor will specify which activities are safe to perform.
It is impossible to prevent an indirect inguinal hernia, but there are steps you can take in order to reduce your risk. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, consuming high-fiber foods, avoiding lifting heavy objects or doing it carefully and with proper form, not smoking, and not relying on supportive gear (known as a truss) to keep the hernia in place as it does not correct the problem or help lower the risk of complications.
Notify your surgeon right away if you experience a high fever, bleeding, increased swelling or pain in the abdomen, increasing pain which does not improve with pain relievers, persistent nausea or vomiting, chills, persistent coughing or shortness of breath, increased redness around your incisions, or difficulty urinating.