What is a hernia?

A hernia occurs when the inside layers of the abdominal wall weaken then bulge or tear. The inner lining of the abdomen pushes through the weakened area to form a balloon-like sac. This, in turn, can cause a loop of intestine or abdominal tissue to slip into the sac, causing severe pain and other potentially serious health problems.

Men and women of all ages can have hernias. Hernias usually occur either because of a natural weakness in the abdominal wall or from too much strain on the abdominal wall, such as:

  • Strain from heavy lifting;
  • Gaining a great deal of weight;
  • Persistent coughing; or
  • Difficulty with bowel movements or urination.

Eighty percent of all hernias are located near the groin. Hernias might also be found below the groin (femoral), through the navel (umbilical), and along an earlier incision, or cut (incisional).

What are the symptoms of hernias?

The symptoms of hernias include the following:

  • A noticeable protrusion (bulge) in the groin area or in the abdomen.
  • Feeling pain while lifting.
  • A dull aching or burning sensation.
  • A vague feeling of fullness.
  • Nausea and constipation.