How to Tell if You Have a Hernia

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

A hernia typically occurs in the groin or abdominal area of the body. It happens when an internal part of the body pushes through a weakness in the muscle or surrounding tissue that usually holds it in place.

A hernia will not go away on its own and may require treatment or surgery to repair it, but how do you know if you have a hernia?

While symptoms can vary, there are common signs that may indicate you have a hernia and should seek medical advice.


What is the main cause of a hernia?

Hernias can sometimes be present from birth, or they may develop over time.

The natural ageing process can weaken the diaphragm, which may make you more susceptible to developing a hernia.

Other causes include injury to the abdominal or groin region, persistent coughing, chronic sneezing, lifting and carrying heavy loads, strenuous physical activities, or excessive straining during a bowel movement.

Being pregnant or overweight can place additional pressure on the abdomen, which may increase your risk of having a hernia.


What are the first signs of a hernia?

Some people experience very few or no symptoms at all when they have a hernia.

However, one of the first hernia signs people usually notice is a lump or bulge just under the skin, either in the groin or abdominal area. The lump can usually be pushed back in, and it may temporarily disappear while lying down.

You may also experience some pain and discomfort where the lump is located, which may worsen with certain activities, such as coughing or strenuous exercise.


What does a hernia feel like?

Some people don’t feel discomfort and may not even notice the bulge of a hernia. However, some people will feel a soft bulge, lump or swelling just under the skin located either in the abdomen or groin. With gentle pressure, the bulge can usually be pushed back in temporarily.

You may feel pain or a sense of discomfort at the hernia site, although each type of hernia can present with different signs and symptoms.

Stomach hernia symptoms, for example, may include mild pain or a dull ache at the hernia site. The pain may worsen with a strenuous activity that puts additional pressure on the abdomen, such as heavy lifting or running.

Hiatal hernia symptoms can present as pain in the chest and diaphragm, and you may also experience bloating, burping, heartburn, and acid reflux. Some people with Hiatal hernias may also have trouble or pain when swallowing, shortness of breath, or an unpleasant bitter or sour taste in the mouth.

Inguinal hernia symptoms can include a painful lump in the groin area. For men, the pain may feel like a dull ache or a tugging sensation that worsens when you stand, cough, or undertake strenuous exercise. For women, you may experience an ache, sharp pain, or burning sensation at the hernia site.

A femoral hernia may present with a small bulge in the inner upper part of your thigh or groin. Pain may be felt in the lower groin and radiate down the front of their leg when they cough heavily.

Some severe symptoms indicate you need to seek urgent medical attention. For example, if your experience sudden pain, or pain that worsens, have nausea, a fever, constipation, or if the hernia feels firm or has changed in colour, you must seek medical advice immediately.


What can be mistaken for a hernia?

The symptoms of a hernia can often mimic many other medical conditions. For example, symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), such as heartburn, bloating, burping, and reflux may also be present with a hiatal hernia.

Hernia symptoms in men, particularly a groin hernia, may also be mistaken for a groin strain injury due to similar symptoms, such as a feeling of pressure or a tugging sensation at the hernia site.

Hernia symptoms in women, such as abdominal or pelvic pain, may be mistaken for gynaecological conditions, such as ovarian cysts or endometriosis. Hernias are also less common in women, which means hernia symptoms in women can often be under or misdiagnosed.

If you are experiencing any signs and symptoms of a hernia, it is important to seek medical advice as soon as possible so that treatment can be provided.


Private hernia surgery at Ramsay Health Care

If you think you have a hernia and want advice about the best course of treatment, speak to Ramsay Health Care today.

We provide rapid and easy access to appointments so you can receive a prompt and reliable diagnosis as quickly as possible.

Should treatment be needed, our expert team of consultants regularly perform hernia repair surgery and can recommend the most appropriate treatment for you.

You can find out more about hernia surgery With Ramsay Health Care here, or contact us today to book an appointment with one of our specialists.

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