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How serious is a hernia?

On a scale of one through to ten, how would you rank the severity of a hernia case?

Many medical experts would say it is mild, which requires nothing more than a 45-minute operation. That in itself may be a major consideration for many patients.

A hernia is defined as any part of your internal organs moves into another body part, where it does not belong. It can occur in various parts of the body, causing pain and discomfort to those affected.

Depending on its location and nature, some hernias may be relatively hard to detect. Without early treatment,serious complications can occur.

It is therefore important that patients with hernias understand the significance of the condition. This article highlights the significance of having a hernia and its implications.

Types of hernia

There are many different types of hernia which can occur. Their description mainly relates to the location in the body where they occur or the site of the hole / defect through which they protrude. Below are the most common types of hernia:

  1. Inguinal hernias
  2. Femoral hernias
  3. Incisional hernias
  4. Umbilical hernias
  5. Epigastric hernias
  6. Spigelian hernias
  7. Hiatal hernias
  8. Obturator hernias

Seeking medical advice for your hernia

Many patients are aware of a lump in the groin or pain in the groin on movement. Many patients, however, prefer to wait until all markers suggesting a hernia are ‘in the red’. This is not advisable so it is wise to know the indicators of a symptomatic hernia, as outlined below, when urgent surgery may be required:

  1. Nausea
  2. Vomiting
  3. Fever
  4. Constipation
  5. Lump or bulge at the site of protrusion
  6. Pain that comes with the movement of that part

Hernia surgery

There are different methods to operate on a hernia. The most common is aimed at determining the nature of the defect then covering it up using a specialist surgical mesh sutured in place. Think of it as sewing patch over a hole in the trousers or sticking a thumb in the dyke!

Hernia surgery is usually day surgery with nearly all patients being discharged within 24 hours, many the same day. This surgery is most often done with a general anaesthetic (being fully asleep), however, if patients are not fit enough for a general anaesthetic the hernia can still be repaired under local anaesthetic (numbing of the area only). Incisional hernias may need longer in hospital, mainly due to post-operative pain, in which case, the patient would be discharged after 2-3 days.

Recovering from a hernia operation does not take too long. In normal conditions, it takes less than 3 weeks to be able to move freely, although, it requires a minimum of 6 weeks before one can return to heavy-duty activities.

Evaluating a hernia

In many cases, a hernia can be diagnosed through physical examination carried out by the doctor on the part of the body that hurts. Generally, the doctor will be able to feel the hernia. They may ask you to cough while examining that part of the body. In some situations, when the hernia may not be obvious or there has been previous surgery an ultrasound or CT scan may be required to confirm its presence.

If a hernia is left untreated it will continue to enlarge over an unpredictable time period. As the number and size of the structures protruding into the hernia increase, their blood flow can be decreased. This will cause a lot of pain, nausea, vomiting and constipation – the symptoms of incarceration and the need for urgent surgery.This can be avoided if individuals make a conscious effort to treat it early.


Posted in: News on March 16, 2020.

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The Berkshire Hernia Centre offers expert, professional and friendly advice to enable you to understand your hernia and what you should do about it.