A hernia develops when tissue bulges through a weak spot in the wall of your belly. The groin area and the navel are common areas for a hernia. A hernia can also develop near the area of a surgery you had before.
Pressure from lifting, straining, or coughing can tear the weak area, causing the hernia to bulge and be painful.
If you cannot push a hernia back into place, the tissue may become trapped outside the belly wall. If the hernia gets twisted and loses its blood supply, it will swell and die. This is called a strangulated hernia. It usually causes a lot of pain. It needs treatment right away.
Some hernias need to be repaired to prevent a strangulated hernia. If your hernia causes symptoms or is large, you may need surgery.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Take care when lifting heavy objects.
- Stay at a healthy weight.
- Do not smoke. Smoking can cause coughing, which can cause your hernia to bulge. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
- Talk with your doctor before wearing a corset or truss for a hernia. These devices are not recommended for treating hernias and sometimes can do more harm than good. There may be certain situations when your doctor thinks a truss would work, but these are rare.
When should you call for help?
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have new or worse belly pain.
- You are vomiting.
- You cannot pass stools or gas.
- You cannot push the hernia back into place with gentle pressure when you are lying down.
- The area over the hernia turns red or becomes tender.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter C129 in the search box to learn more about "Hernia: Care Instructions".
Current as of: March 22, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kenneth Bark MD - General Surgery, Colon and Rectal Surgery