Can Sneezing Cause a Groin Hernia

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Surprisingly the answer is yes! Violent sneezing attacks can lead to a groin hernia and as we move into the allergy season for grasses and weeds, it’s best to manage hay fever symptoms such as fierce and frequent sneezing to prevent this possibility.


What is a groin hernia?

A groin hernia is the protrusion of an internal body part (fat, intestines or abdominal structure) through a weakness in your abdominal muscle or surrounding tissue wall. A groin hernia can be inguinal (common) or femoral (less common) and refers to the area of your groin it appears in. Hernias can occur on one or both sides (bilateral) of the groin.


How will I know if I have a groin hernia?

A groin hernia may cause no or very few symptoms. Most commonly a swelling in your groin will appear. The lump can sometimes be pushed back in or it may disappear when you lie down. It can reappear if you sneeze, cough or strain on the toilet. You may feel a dull ache that is more pronounced when doing physical activity.


What causes a groin hernia?

A groin hernia may be present at birth or it can develop later in life either gradually or suddenly. It is caused by a weakening of your abdominal wall and this can be triggered by one or a combination of many things including: genetics, age, smoking, or additional strain on your abdominal wall due to lifting, coughing and sneezing.


When should I see a doctor?

If you think you may have a groin hernia, you should seek medical advice. Most groin hernias are diagnosed by a physical examination and your clinical history. Sometimes your doctor may not be certain you have a hernia, for example if you don’t have a swelling and you have substantial pain. If this is the case, then further diagnostic investigations such as MRI and ultrasound will be required.

If you have a hernia and you develop sudden severe pain, vomiting, constipation or wind or your hernia is tender, firm or cannot be pushed back in, then you should go immediately to your nearest A&E department as you may have a strangulated or obstructed hernia.


What treatment is suitable for a groin hernia?

Surgery is the only cure for a hernia but not all hernia’s need to be surgically repaired. Once your doctor has diagnosed you to have a hernia, they will consider a number of factors to determine whether you need a hernia repair. These include: the type, location and severity of your hernia and the chance of it becoming strangulated or causing a bowel obstruction, your symptoms and their impact on your daily life and your general health.

Millions of hernia operations are performed each year, making hernia the world’s most common of all surgical operations. Well over 100,000 of them are performed in the UK¹.




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