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Hernia types

A hernia is the result of a weakness in the abdominal muscles that hold the organs in place. When these muscles become too weak, organ tissue might push through the muscle, creating this noticeable bulge in the skin. This bulge may disappear or become smaller when a person lies down.

Hernias may also be tender to the touch and can cause discomfort in the upper or lower abdomen or groin, especially when lifting, coughing, or bending over.

Hernias may not cause symptoms in some cases, but it may still be better to treat them early to avoid complications.

A strangulated hernia is not a type of a hernia, but rather a complication. Some of the more common types of hernias that can become strangulated are:

  • An inguinal hernia: A bulge on either side of the pubic bone.
  • An epigastric hernia: A bulge of fat pushing through the walls of the upper abdomen.
  • A femoral hernia: A lump in the groin or inner upper area of the thigh.
  • Umbilical hernias: A bump in the belly button caused by the intestines protruding through weaker abdominal muscles at the belly button.
  • An incisional hernia: A hernia caused by a surgical wound that has not entirely or correctly healed.
  • A hiatal hernia: A hernia that develops when a portion of the stomach elevates through a defect in the diaphragm. While this type of a hernia can become strangulated, the signs are different and include nausea, pain in the chest after eating and bloating.

Incarcerated hernias

Hernias may become incarcerated when the herniated tissue gets trapped and cannot move back into place, but the blood supply to the tissues has not been cut off. However, incarcerated hernias can easily lead to strangulated hernias.

Incarcerated hernias are not a medical emergency, but should still be treated quickly to prevent them from becoming strangulated.

When to see a doctor

If a hernia does not easily go back into the abdominal cavity, it may be incarcerated. Anyone with an incarcerated hernia should see a doctor, as these hernias can easily become strangulated.

Anyone who suspects they have a strangulated hernia should skip the doctor and seek emergency medical care immediately.