Several medical conditions can be diagnosed at home, without a medical professional, just by observing the conditions of the body and the appearances of the skin on the adjoining area. One of such conditions is a hernia, which can be easily diagnosed at home, should you or someone else be suffering from a herniated abdomen or groin. This passage will run you through the common ways and signs to identify a hernia, and how to tell if you have a hernia.

However, this passage only deals with the visual indicators of a hernia; proper medical care, which includes the timely trip to the hospital for a corrective surgery, is required to be dealt by a qualified medical practitioner, because nearly all cases of hernia can be corrected with surgery and an abdomen operation is the only way to fix a herniated organ or a tissue layer that has ruptured. So, how to tell if you have a hernia (or anyone around you, for that matter).

Also Read: How to Become an Anesthesiologist?

What is a Hernia?

First, we need to understand what actually is a hernia and how can you determine whether it is actually a hernia and not a regular cramp or a stomach-ache due to other complications or reasons. The line of determining or making a judgement call just by seeing is a thin one; not all pains presented in the abdomen region are hernias and similarly, hernias can also present themselves uncharacteristically. 

Basically, a hernia occurs when the layers of fat and muscle, which helps keep the internal organs bound within the thoracic cavity in the abdomen and the groin area, ruptures or is damaged, causing the unsecured organs to move about in a dangerous manner once the person is walking, sitting or lying down. While a hernia is a generalized term, many of the afflictions being discussed occur in the belly, abdomen or groin areas. 

Types of Hernia

As explained beforehand, there are many types of hernias (since it is a generalized term and not the name of a particular disease or affliction) that can occur in different parts of the body; to give an idea of how much the term is generalized, most people that come in with back pains have cases what are referred to as ‘presented with a herniated disc’. This goes on to show that hernia can occur anywhere, and is not subject to gender exclusivity or region exclusivity. 

  • Inguinal Hernia:

    The most common type of hernia and mostly occurring in men, it is characterized by severe pain in the lower abdomen/ groin area. It occurs when an intestine or a bladder pushes against the abdominal wall, or is pressured against groin’s inguinal canal. Common symptoms include radiating pain in the lower abdomen or groin, redness of the area and general discoloring.

  • Hiatal hernia:

    It is also one of the most common hernial afflictions and is found in both men and women. It is common in occurrence owing to its nature; when the upper part of the stomach, which contains the esophagus (food pipe), squeezes from the muscular diaphragm between the lungs and the stomach. Part of its commonality is due to the fact that a small hiatal hernia is rarely cause for concern; however, if it gets too chronic, surgery might be able to better the situation. A common symptom of a hiatal hernia is excessive heartburning and tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing.

  • Femoral Hernia:

    Uncommon type of hernia, with limited preventability and cases reported in men. Most patients are female, especially ones with weight issues, obesity or pregnant women. A femoral hernia is usually presented with pain in the groin area, radiating towards the thighs and difficulty in the elimination of excreta. A femoral hernia occurs when a small part of the intestine causes a bulging apparition close to the groin, oftentimes extending to the extreme upper thigh. This explains why it is commonly presented in pregnant women and why a characteristic difficulty in bowel movements is observed in patients with femoral hernia.

  • Incisional Hernia:

    As the name suggests, this type of hernia occurs in older people, who have limited or no movement at all. It is also presented in people recovering from a surgery, especially from a procedure that has been performed in the abdomen or groin region. It occurs when a previous incision, made on the site of the previous surgery, ruptures, causing the internal organs to either penetrate the muscle wall or protrude from the small incision, causing pain in the region. Common methods to determine if an incisional hernia is presented is by looking at the affected area for reddening or general discoloration, pain and difficulty in bowel movements. 

  • Umbilical Hernia:

    Umbilical hernia is rarely presented in adults; however, it is more common in infants and new-born children. In fact, a good majority of all cases comprise of infants or even toddlers. It is characterized by radiating pain in the navel, belly button or the stomach area of the body. It occurs when the small intestine, or a part of it, can extend into the belly button (the umbilical opening), causing mild pain in the abdominal area. While these are generally classified as harmless for the toddlers and babies, severe cases have to be referred to a surgeon, which will then require for a manual or forced removal of the intestine from the belly button. 

Common Symptoms of a Hernia (Broad Range)

Broad-range symptoms are the symptoms that are shared by a number of ailments and diseases in a particular region. For instance, a broad-range symptom of a disease concentrated in the pulmonary area might be difficulty in breathing and coughing, gasping for breath. These are symptoms that are shared by a number of diseases.

Similarly, hernias also have some common symptoms, which a patient, regardless of their age, gender or condition, might exhibit. The most common one is pain, which radiates from the sites of the hernia to the adjacent areas that have been affected. Several of them are listed below,

  • Bulges:

    Wherever a hernia has localized, look for any bulges, especially ones that are tender and hurt when touched. A bulge could be anything; from an entangled intestine to a bulging internal organ. Common places of affliction include abdomen, groin and sometimes the scrotum.

  • Pain During Movement:

    While hernias might radiate pain in any posture, some only hurt when the person moves; for instance, walks or runs. These hernias mean that the protective sheet of muscle is ruptured and can be especially easy to diagnose if the pain worsens upon bending of the body or carrying some weight.

  • Cramps, Nausea and Vomiting:

    These three almost present together in a majority of cases; and are usually related to a hernia near the vicinity or in the stomach itself. Sphincters and the ends of stomachs are particularly susceptible to hernias and if such a case presents itself, the primary symptoms will almost always include these three or one of these three. 

  • Radiating pain:

    Pain during a hernia often radiates, from the source to the adjoining areas. The area that is the most tender and painful might be the source of the hernia, while radiating pain in adjoining areas could be in the thighs, abdomen or the groin.

  • Constricted Bowel Movement:

    This symptom only occurs should the hernia occur in one of the intestines (both the small and large are susceptible), either due to twisting of the tube or it getting entangled or stuck in an incision.