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Hernia risk factors

We talk about the risks that make it more likely you'll develop a hernia

Hernias can appear at birth or develop later on in adulthood. They occur due a weakness in the muscles of your abdominal wall. There are many factors that can cause the tissues in your abdominal wall to weaken. These include ageing and smoking, heavy lifting and chronic (long-term) coughs. The NHS states obesity is another main reason why you could develop a hernia. If you are overweight and have had surgery to treat a hernia, there is also a higher likelihood of your hernia returning.

For the most part, hernias are not dangerous. The Royal College of Surgeons recommends that even if a hernia shows no pain or discomfort (asymptomatic), you should see a clinician to have it checked out.

This is because hernias can lose their blood supply (become a strangulated hernia) over time and become acutely dangerous. This causes ischemia and can cause permanent, if not fatal, damage. So it’s best to have your hernia checked out as early as possible.

Hernias can become irreducible, which means that it is hard to push them back into your chest cavity. This is the stage before the hernia becomes strangulated, and it is here that seeing your doctor becomes very important.

You can tell whether a hernia is getting dangerous when you cannot push it back into your body, when you have difficulty passing wind or you have difficulty passing bowel movements, when you feel continuously nauseous, or when there is a sudden bout of intense pain around the affected area.

If any of these occur, you should go to Accident and Emergency.

These conditions are associated with a strangulated hernia. 

According to the NHS, strangulation is the most severe complication that you can develop from a hernia. It refers to severe pain at the location of the bulge, which can be followed by sudden and sharp pains in your abdomen hours later. The skin over your bulge could sometimes become red.

Strangulation can lead to vomiting and can cause your bowel activity to stop. This means you cannot pass wind and your bowels do not function. The NHS advises if this happens, you must find immediate medical attention either through your GP or by visiting an Accident & Emergency (A&E) department at your local hospital. 

A consultation with an experienced Consultant is often the quickest and simplest way to diagnose and treat your hernia.

They will be able to talk with you about the best treatment options for your specific situation.

Book an appointment online today. 

Specialists offering Hernia risk factors

Mr Daniel Baird

Consultant General and Colorectal Surgeon

MB ChB. MD (Res). FRCS.

Goring Hall Hospital

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