A type of hernia, the inguinal hernia occurs in our body when the soft tissues, mostly near the intestine, push out through a weak point into the lower abdominal wall. This protrusion results into a painful bulge which sharpen as you cough, lift some heavy weight or bend down. The bulge may also lead to a burning sensation in the affected area.
Inguinal hernia is not a severe condition, but is surely painful if you don’t get it treated. Also, if not treated in time, it may cause life threatening complications which may result to death of the patient. Thus, it gets important that your consult your doctor and undergo a surgery to repair the inguinal hernia before it enlarges and becomes life threatening.
Causes of inguinal hernia
There are no apparent reasons that lead to inguinal hernia. However, it develops because of a slit opening in the muscular abdominal wall which fails to close or heal after child birth. The weakened muscles in the affected later give way to the tissues and organs inside the abdominal cavity causing a bulge outside.
Hernia can either occur during child birth or anytime in the later life due to age and weak muscles. However, the other causes of inguinal hernia include:
- Sudden increased pressure inside the abdomen
- Any pre-existing weak muscles located within the abdominal wall.
- Combination of both, weak muscles and an increased pressure inside the abdomen.
- Heavy weight lifting
- Fluid in abdomen
- Excessive strain during urination or bowel movements
- Chronic sneezing and coughing
- Excess weight
In men, inguinal hernia mainly occurs near the inguinal canal, an area close to the spermatic cord that also includes the vas Deferens. Vas Deferens is the tube which carries the sperms and enters into the scrotum.
While, in women the inguinal canal mainly carries the ligament which helps the uterus stay in its position. The inguinal hernia mainly occurs in the area where the connective tissue of the uterus attaches along with the tissue of the pubic bone.
Inguinal hernia is more common in men due to the weakened muscles in the inguinal canal region. The male fetus, when inside the womb, first develops the testicles within the abdomen which later moves down to the inguinal canal and then to the scrotum. After child birth, the canal closes completely thus leaving room only for the spermatic cord to pass through it.
However, sometimes the canal fails to close properly, thus leaving the area comparatively weaker. In female fetuses, there is less chance of the inguinal canal of not closing. But in women, the inguinal hernia mainly develops in the femoral canal.
Symptoms of inguinal hernia
The major symptom of inguinal hernia is the bulge protruding in the groin region or the scrotum. Usually, it looks like a rounded lump which may develop in a small period of months or in just a few weeks.
It may also suddenly appear after you lift heavy weights, laughing, coughing, bending or straining. The bulge may usually occur without any pain or with excessive pricking pain. However, the bulge disappears soon as you lie down. It is more specific when you stand.
- The noticeable signs and symptoms of inguinal hernia
- Bulge on either side of the pubic bone
- Aching, burning or gurgling sensation at the bulging area
- Discomfort, pain and irritation in your groin. This increases with coughing, bending or lifting weight
- Heaviness or a dragging sensation in the groin
- Pressure and weakness in the groin
- In men, swelling and pain in the scrotum caused due to the descending of the intestine.
Symptoms in children
Inguinal hernia is common in children due to the weak abdominal wall at the time of their birth. This may be observed when the baby is crying, straining due to bowel movements or coughing. However, with the growing age, the abdominal wall strengthens thus curing the condition.
Risk factors in inguinal hernia
- Being a male
- History of inguinal hernia in family
- Chronic cough
- Other medical conditions like cystic fibrosis
- Excess weight
- Doing excessive physical labor
- Premature birth
- Diagnosis of inguinal hernia
Most doctors usually diagnose inguinal hernia based on the symptoms mentioned above. Also, the bulge is easily detected by just a touch.
Any form of hernia cannot be treated by simply medications or other therapies. Surgery is the only solution for treating inguinal hernia. In case your hernia is not very painful or it is not burning, you can easily wait for some time. But, if your hernia is painful you should get your hernia checked and undergo the surgery soon before you suffer from tissue strangulation.
There are mainly two types of operations for inguinal hernia:
- Herniorrhaphy: Also called the open hernia repair, in this operation the surgeon makes incision in your groin region and pushes back the bulge into the abdominal cavity and repairs the weakened wall using a synthetic mesh.
- Laparoscopy: In this surgery technique, laser light is used to make the incision. The doctor then inserts a laparoscope, a fiber optic tube that has a tiny camera ahead, into the incision and then repairs the weak abdominal wall and places a synthetic mesh to prevent the hernia from occurring again. The incision made in laparoscopy is smaller and hence helps the patient heal faster from inguinal hernia.