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| 12/05/2021

What happens if I ignore a hernia?


What happens if I ignore a hernia

If you ignore a hernia and it grows and worsens, then you are at greater risk of complications which can be life threatening. Hernias cannot heal on their own, and whilst some may be painless, it is still important to visit your GP if you suspect that you have one.


A hernia is the protrusion of an internal part of the body through weakened muscle or tissue. They usually appear in the groin (inguinal) area or the abdomen and can be internal (no visible bulge) or external (creating a visual lump).


What are the symptoms of a hernia?


It is normal for some people to experience very few or no symptoms at all. With external hernias, you may notice a bulge, typically somewhere between the chest and hip region. Often, this bulge can be gently pushed back in and disappears when you lie down. If you do suspect that you have a hernia and develop any of the following symptoms, go to A and E immediately;

  • Sudden and severe pain

  • Feeling nauseous or vomiting

  • Difficulty pooing or passing wind

  • The hernia becomes tender or firm or changes colour to red, purple or dark

  • You have a fever

These symptoms could be the result of two key complications, strangulation or obstruction. Strangulation occurs when the blood supply to the contents of the hernia are cut off, whilst obstruction involves something (typically part of the bowel) entering and causing blockage inside the hernia.


Is hernia surgery serious?


Hernia repair surgery is a common procedure and can be done in day surgery meaning that you can go home the same day. Whilst all surgical procedures come with risk, it is safer to proceed with surgery if your doctor recommends. In open surgery, an incision will be made along the hernia, the contents will be put back into place and the skin closed. The weakened area may be strengthened using a mesh insert, sort of like a second skin. Check out our treatment page to find out more about treatment options.


How can I prevent getting a hernia?


You may be susceptible to getting a hernia if at birth, certain muscles and tissues aimed to keep organs in position do not develop properly. Whilst you cannot control this susceptibility, there are some things that you can do to try and reduce the pressure on muscles and tissue.

  • Maintain a healthy weight and eat high fibre foods. This can help with digestion and prevent constipation, which in turn helps to reduce muscle strain when defecating.

  • Take care when lifting heavy objects. Adopt good stance to ensure that you bend safely from the knees and not the mid-section. This allows the knees to absorb the strain rather than the abdomen.

  • Stop smoking. Typically, smokers develop what is known as smokers cough. Continual deep coughing can cause excess strain and either gradually cause a hernia or make an existing one worse.

Hernias are quite common and relatively straightforward to fix, should you seek attention promptly. Ignoring a hernia, however, can have serious consequences. Here at West Valley, you can have a consultation with our highly experienced surgeons such as Mr Said Mohamed. Recovery is usually fast and you can be back home the same day. Please don't hesitate to get in touch to find out more.

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