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How Does It Feel Like When You Have Hernia?

Jul 06, 2017

Incidence of hernia is very high, and you are definitely not alone if you think you are suffering from hernia. Annually almost 5 million people are affected by hernia in US alone. 2/3rd of all hernias are inguinal hernia, which is the most common type. It is called a men's condition because 90% of the cases of inguinal hernia affect men. If you want to know what it is and are wondering what does a hernia feel like, you will get all the answers here.

What Is Hernia?

Hernia happens when there is an organ or fatty tissue protruding from its surrounding muscle or weakened connective tissue called as fascia. There are various types of hernia – inguinal or inner groin, femoral or outer groin, umbilical (belly button), hiatal or of the upper stomach and incisional, i.e., caused due to an incision.

  • Men have a natural weakness in the groin region and hence are more susceptible to inguinal hernia. In this condition, the intestine or bladder protrudes in the groin cavity through the abdominal wall.
  • Femoral hernia is more often seen in obese or pregnant women, where the intestine protrudes in the canal which has the femoral artery.
  • Umbilical hernia is common in newborns, obese women or those who had many children, and in this condition, the small intestine protrudes through the navel.
  • In hiatal hernia the upper stomach squeezes through the hiatus, which is an opening for esophagus.
  • Elderly or overweight people who have undergone surgery and are inactive will have the intestine pushing through the abdominal wall through the incision site.

What Does a Hernia Feel Like?

Now that we have understood the different types of hernia, we will try to understand what a hernia feels like. You will feel a little pressure, heaviness, tingling or burning sensation in the abdomen, scrotum (in case of men or groin), a dull ache or even a feeling of weakness due to hernia. The symptoms can get aggravated while standing for long duration, coughing, straining of the abdominal muscles, while lifting heavy objects, doing sports like golf, or even during bowel movement. Resting can help relieve the symptoms.

In case of women, there can be a burning sensation or mild discomfort at the location of the hernia, but most women may not feel anything. Hernias tend to get ignored because the symptoms are mild in nature with nearly no symptoms; however, hernias tend to become larger with time. This results in severe stage of hernias by the time patients have associated symptoms like nausea, vomiting and severe pain.

People's Experiences

“Hernia is very painful and you feel like a finger or tip of the thumb or something like that is protruding from a hole in the intestine. The one I had used to feel usually decreases, but in case of some people, it remains strong, giving excruciating pain. This results in an emergency surgery.”

“Hernia pain depends on the type of hernia you have or if the pain is caused by hernia in the first place. I would personally recommend seeing a doctor immediately. I was suffering from an umbilical hernia, where the muscle wall had separated near the belly button. It pained like a bad bruise wound and I was walking around with this hernia for days.”

More Obvious Symptoms of Hernia

The following symptoms will help you in further understanding "What does a hernia feel like?"

  • Bulges, lumps or swelling: Almost all hernias have a bulge or lump in the abdominal wall. The type of the hernia will determine the location of the lump. It can resemble generalized swelling, if it is small. A bulge is sometimes the first indication of a hernia, if there is no pain. Depending on the activity, the bulge can come and go. For example, an abdominal bulge can disappear when a person is lying down. A bulge can be obvious when there is pressure on the abdomen, like when you are exercising.
  • Severe pain: A strangulated hernia can cause severe pain along with tenderness and redness. It is a sure sign that can cause pain in the entire abdominal area. Immediate medical attention should be sought, as it can become fatal. Usually the small intestine gets squeezed into the hernia, resulting in strangulation of the organ. Ignoring hernia pain can cause serious complications.

When Should You Seek Medical Help and How to Diagnose It?

See a Doctor

After you know "What does a hernia feel like" and if you experience any hernia symptoms, you should get them checked out. When a hernia is not painful, and get pushed back in the abdomen, it might not require immediate surgery. But in case of becoming serious, you can get a reference for surgery so that it can be done as an elective surgery.

An irreducible hernia can result in pain, tenderness and a lump, which should be checked in an emergency setting (ER). A hernia which suddenly develops these symptoms would also mean a trip to the ER. If there is strangulation of the hernia, it can cause the bowel to die within 6 hours; hence it should be checked immediately.

Diagnose Hernia

A physical examination is done to diagnose an incisional or inguinal hernia. It would involve checking for bulge, lump in the groin or abdomen, and if it increases in size while straining, coughing or standing. Barium X-ray or endoscopy can help in determining hiatal hernia. It shows the location of the hernia on the X-ray, and gets highlighted by the barium. In an endoscopy, a camera placed at tip of a tube is threaded down the esophagus and stomach.

Ultrasound can help in checking umbilical hernia in children, where high frequency sound waves are passed through the body, which then generates images of the structures present inside the body.

For the detailed info about treatments for hernia, please watch the video below: