Your health is our priority, and if you’re experiencing symptoms of a hernia, it’s important to seek care as soon as possible. While some hernias can be managed with lifestyle changes, others can become life-threatening if left untreated.
Learn more about this condition, what to expect for treatment and how we’re working to keep you safe when you visit us in person for diagnostic tests, examinations and treatments.
How Hernias Develop
A hernia happens when an area of weakened muscle tears and allows part of an internal organ or tissue to bulge through.
Most people with hernias get them as their muscles weaken with age. But others develop hernias because they were born with weak abdominal muscles, are overweight, use tobacco or have poor nutrition — all of which increase your hernia risk.
If you lift heavy objects (especially without proper lifting techniques) or strain your muscles while coughing, sneezing or having a bowel movement, you can eventually develop a hernia or make an existing one worse.
Types of hernias include:
- Congenital hernias, which are present at birth when a baby’s diaphragm isn’t completely formed
- Hiatal hernias, which develop in the upper part of the stomach
- Incisional hernias, which happen after surgery when part of an organ pushes through the scar area
- Inguinal hernias, which affect men more than women and develop in the groin area
- Umbilical hernias, which develop near the navel
How to Recognize Hernia Symptoms
Symptoms of a hernia can vary depending on the type and location, but generally include:
- Cough, heartburn or difficulty swallowing
- Pressure in the area of the hernia
- Visible bulging or a lump you can feel
See your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. If you have a hernia that becomes soft or causes sudden pain, constipation, nausea or vomiting, go to the emergency room right away. These symptoms could mean you have a strangulated hernia, which is a life-threatening condition.
Babies who are born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia may have trouble breathing. If your baby seems to be struggling to breathe, contact your doctor right away.
Know What to Expect for Hernia Diagnosis and Treatment
If you have symptoms of a hernia, your doctor can offer an accurate diagnosis with a physical exam and, if needed, imaging tests such as an X-ray or computed tomography (CT) scan to get a clear picture of your health.
If you have symptoms of a hiatal hernia, you may need an upper endoscopy. This minimally invasive procedure uses a small camera on a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) to examine your throat and stomach.
Your doctor may also suggest changes to your diet and activities if your hernia isn’t severe or dangerous. Medication can also sometimes relieve your symptoms.
If your symptoms don’t improve, surgery may be recommended. Advances in technology offer procedures with smaller incisions and shorter recovery. A baby with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia may also need surgery soon after birth. Your care team will work closely with you to discuss the treatment approach that’s right for you or your child.
Hernia Care: Your Safety Is Our Top Priority
Hernias can’t always be prevented, but they can be treated — and a digestive expert is the best person to give you advice on how to manage your hernia. If you have symptoms, our digestive care team is here to help you with compassionate, personalized care.
Rest assured we’re taking steps at every location to keep you safe during your in-person health care appointments, including:
- Implementing strict visitor restrictions
- Isolating symptomatic and COVID-19-positive patients
- Practicing social distancing
- Taking temperatures of all people entering the building
- Wearing masks at all times
Find Lasting Relief
Don’t accept pain as something you must learn to live with. We’re here to do everything possible to help you feel at ease while treating your condition to bring lasting relief. Learn more and find a provider near you.