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It is often thought that only men suffer from hernias, but hernias are also common in both women and children.
A hernia is “a condition in which a part of an organ protrudes through the wall of the cavity containing it.” Often, patients feel a bulge or lump at the place of the protrusion. Other symptoms include pain in the groin or upper thigh and pain that goes away with rest but recurs and worsens throughout the day.
While symptoms of hernias are the same in men and women, the bulge created by the hernia can be harder to feel when a woman lies down. Because of this, women will often suffer from hernias for a long time before getting treatment.
Hernia repair and treatment
But it is important to get treatment right away. “Hernias should be repaired when identified,” says general surgeon Dr. Brian Ondulick. “There is always a risk for strangulation of the bowel, which could lead to much larger operations. We fix them so that they don’t create more problems.”
Like with most procedures, Dr. Ondulick explains, patients have better results when they’re not “high risk.” High-risk, or comorbidities, include factors like tobacco use, weight that is not under control, and specifically diabetes.
Hernias in children
Hernias at the groin or belly button are common in children under four. But, no medical intervention is typically necessary unless the child is having trouble walking or moving. Because children are still growing, it’s better to perform longer-term repairs after growth spurts are over.
If you think your child may have a hernia, “changing gait (the way they walk) is a telltale sign,” Dr. James Parker, general surgeon, says. “Kids don’t like to slow down, so they will try to find ways around it and walk hunched over to take the pressure off the groin or belly button.”
If you think you may have a hernia
Addressing a hernia starts with contacting your primary care physician. “Describe what the pain is and how it came on,” Dr. Parker says. “Was it from activity, heavy lifting, heavy cough? Typically, the pain comes on from things that cause an abdominal pressure increase.”
Bottom line, Dr. Ondulick says, “Not every lump is a hernia, but not every hernia presents as a lump. Always contact your doctor if you notice changes in your physical appearance or if you are experiencing pain.”
Kettering Health specializes in state-of-the-art treatments of simple and complex hernias.
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