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.
Understand 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.
“Smoking, chronic cough, chronic constipation and heavy weight lifting can increase your risk of getting a hernia,” says Thushy Siva, MD, a general surgeon who specializes in general, minimally invasive surgery, breast surgery and upper and lower endoscopies.
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 are present at birth when a baby’s diaphragm isn’t completely formed
- Hiatal hernias develop in the upper part of the stomach
- Incisional hernias happen after surgery when part of an organ pushes through the scar area
- Inguinal hernias affect men more than women and develop in the groin area
- Umbilical hernias develop near the navel
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
You should 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 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 thin, flexible tube (a catheter) 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 From a Team Whose Top Priority is Your Safety
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
- Practicing social distancing
- Taking temperatures of all people entering the building
- Wearing masks at all times
“With highly trained staff and advanced technology, we are committed to making patient experience seamless,” says Dr. Siva.
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. Our Bariatric and Digestive Health Navigator will be with you during every step of your wellness journey.
Her complimentary services include connecting you with educational resources and support services, communicating with your doctors and scheduling appointments. She is here to provide the support you need to find relief and feel whole again. Learn more about our digestive health program and start healing.
Call our Bariatric and Digestive Health Navigator today at 352-521-1170.