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Symptoms of hernias?

Often hernias are painless and are noted only as a bulge or swelling. Hernias however can also be uncomfortable or very painful. 

So, what are the symptoms of a hernia?

The signs and symptoms can vary quite a bit and will be largely dependent on the type of hernia it is, where it is anatomically, how large or small it is, and by what type of tissues or organs are protruding through the defect (hole).

 

As noted in the "What are the different types of hernias?" and "What is a hernia?" sections, there are the three most common types of hernias:

 

  • Inguinal hernia   

  • Umbilical hernia  

  • Hiatal hernia  

 

Inguinal Hernias 

Inguinal hernias are the most common type, making up about 90% of hernias of all hernias in men, and almost 40% in women. If you read the other sections, you may recall that an inguinal hernia occurs in the groin area (through the inguinal canal) and is typically noticed as a painless bulge, lump, or swelling just above the upper portion of the inner thigh. Sometimes they do cause symptoms of pressure, discomfort, or pain (aching or sharp). 

 

Symptoms of inguinal hernias in both men and women:

  • A bulge, lump, or swelling in the groin that you can see or feel, and that usually becomes larger or more noticeable when you cough, sneeze, lift heavy items, or strain in any way. 

  • Often the bulge may come and go, often protruding when standing up, and flat when laying down. Often you can push the bulge back in with your hand. These findings occur more often early on, but over time, the bulge becomes more frequent or constant.

  • Sometimes you may experience pressure, or mild discomfort to severe pain in the area of the bulge. The symptoms are sometimes intermittent or sometimes constant. And it is not uncommon for these symptoms to be made worse by coughing, sneezing, lifting, or straining.

  • Often the symptoms are relieved by laying down, or pushing the hernia back in. 

  • In men specifically, they can sometimes experience scrotal or testicular symptoms such as swelling around the testicles and/or a swollen or enlarged scrotum, and occasionally pressure, nagging discomfort/pain, or shooting pain in the scrotum or testicles.

Femoral Hernias 

 

Femoral hernias are far less common, making up 3% of all hernias in men and 11% in women. So, this type of hernia predominantly affects women, and typically older women. If you read the "What are the different types of hernias?" and "What is a hernia?" sections, you may recall that they are similar to inguinal hernias in that they occur in the groin near the top of the inner thigh, but usually noted to be lower towards the thigh. They occur through the canal where the "Femoral" blood vessels (artery and vein) pass through the abdominal wall to the leg. They are often smaller and less noticeable but are typically much more dangerous and often need emergency surgery when initially noted.

They often have similar symptoms to inguinal hernias:

 

  • A bulge, lump, or swelling in the groin that you can see or feel, and that usually becomes larger or more noticeable when you cough, sneeze, lift heavy items, or strain in any way. 

  • Often the bulge may protrude more when standing up. Sometimes you can push the bulge back in with your hand, but usually by the time they are noticed, they are very painful and too painful to touch. 

  • Sometimes you may only experience pressure or mild discomfort, sometimes intermittent, and sometimes constant, but as noted, they often present with severe pain. 

Umbilical Hernias 

 

  • The incidence is 2% in the adult population and is more common in females with a ratio of 3:1.

  • As you may have read in other sections, they occur at or near the umbilicus (belly button). Umbilical hernias occur through the hole where the umbilical cord once came through the abdominal wall as a newborn.

  

Symptoms associated with Umbilical Hernias:

  • A bulge, lump, or swelling right at the umbilicus (belly button) or very close to it.  

  • It can be completely asymptomatic, or it can cause pressure or mild discomfort to severe pain.

  • As stated in the other sections, if a protrusion is noted in the belly button anytime past the age of 5 years, then it needs to be repaired. It will not go away or close on its own. It will only become worse over time.

  • For women, if you are pregnant, or plan to be pregnant, it may be recommended by your surgeon to wait until after you believe you are finished having children. Your surgeon can determine whether it is reasonably safe to wait. 

 

Hiatal Hernias 

 

From the "What is a Hernia?" section, you may recall that a hiatal (or hiatus hernia) is one that occurs through the diaphragm where the esophagus (swallowing tube) travels into the abdomen, through the "diaphragmatic hiatus." So, when a part of the stomach (sometimes a large portion or all of it) pushes up through this opening into the chest, it causes a loss of the barrier that keeps stomach acid from splashing up into the esophagus. Therefore, the most common symptom of a hiatus hernia is acid reflux (heartburn). As the hole becomes larger, more stomach can protrude, which can ultimately lead to vomiting and severe pain.​​

So, you will not experience any external symptoms such as a bulge, lump, or swelling, but you may experience:

 

  • Acid reflux/Heartburn (most common)

  • Indigestion

  • Bloating

  • Sour taste in your mouth

  • Regurgitation of undigested food (sometimes noted on your pillow when you wake up) 

  • Feelings of food getting stuck in your throat or chest

  • Pain with swallowing food and sometimes liquids (odynophagia) 

  • Nausea or Vomiting

  • Chest pain 

  • Shortness of breath, especially after eating

As noted before:

IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING SEVERE PAIN, IF YOU NOTE ANY CHANGE IN THE SKIN COLOR (RED OR PURPLE) OVER THE HERNIA, AND ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE ALSO EXPERIENCING ANY OF THE FOLLOWING, ABDOMINAL BLOATING, NAUSEA, VOMITING, ABDOMINAL PAIN, FEVER OR CHILLS, YOU NEED TO CALL 911 OR GO TO THE NEAREST EMERGENCY ROOM IMMEDIATELY. YOU CAN DIE IF YOU DO NOT RECEIVE EMERGENCY SURGERY.

Take the Next Step:

Come and see us at Advanced Hernia Specialists.  We have the most experience and are considered experts in the field of hernia surgery. We are committed to delivering excellent care and the best patient outcomes possible. We offer the most cost-effective options for patients who are paying out of pocket, as well as the most advanced laparoscopic, minimally invasive, and robotic surgical techniques for hernia repair.

If you think you have a hernia, or you have been diagnosed by your doctor with one, please call us to schedule an appointment at 904-808-5658, email us, use our online Contact Form, or Book Online

 

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