Hernias can affect people of all different ages, from babies through older adults. However, they are not all the same, and the possible symptoms can vary. Here to discuss this health condition and how it can be managed are board-certified physicians Rosanna Elena Ianiro, MD, and Payal Jhawar, MD.
Q. What is a hernia, and what causes it?
A hernia occurs when there is a hole or weak spot in the muscle wall or tissue that allows an organ, intestine or fatty tissue to squeeze through. Activities that put pressure on the abdomen, like lifting heavy objects, can contribute to hernias, as can certain health and lifestyle factors, like obesity and smoking. In some cases, babies may be born with this condition.
Q. What are the different kinds of hernias?
The different types may include an inguinal hernia, which involves a protrusion through the abdominal wall into the groin; an incisional hernia, which occurs through an incision or scar in the abdomen; a femoral hernia, which affects the upper thigh/outer groin area; a hiatal hernia, which happens when the stomach pushes through an opening in the diaphragm; and an umbilical hernia, which occurs at the belly button.
Q. How do I know if I have a hernia?
While there are not always symptoms, you may feel pain or burning when you exercise or lift heavy objects. Also, a hernia may result in a bulge that you can see. A diagnosis may be made with a physical exam, or sometimes by a test such as an ultrasound, CT scan or endoscopy.
Q. How are hernias treated?
For newborns with umbilical hernias, they may heal on their own, and surgery can be avoided. For other hernias, a doctor may be able to massage them back into place. If surgery is recommended, minimally invasive treatment may be an option (see next page). A potentially lifethreatening condition can occur if the blood supply to the herniated tissue is cut off. This is an emergency and requires immediate care.
Rosanna Elena Ianiro, MD, is a family medicine doctor at North River Family Health Center in Palmetto. For an appointment, call 941-722-7785.
Payal Jhawar, MD, is an internal medicine physician at Lakewood Ranch Medical Group in Bradenton. For an appointment, call 941-782-2800.