When tissue, such as a portion of the intestine, pushes through a weak area in the abdominal muscles, it develops into an inguinal hernia. When you cough, bend over, or lift anything heavy, pain may occur in the bulge. Most hernias, however, are painless.
An inguinal hernia is not harmful. However, if it doesn’t get better on its own and can develop problems that are fatal. Inguinal hernia surgery may be advised by your doctor if it is painful or enlarged. A surgical treatment is the correction of inguinal hernias.
Signs and symptoms of an inguinal hernia include:
- A bulge on the pubic bone that is more noticeable when you’re standing up, especially if you cough or strain
- A burning or hurting sensation near the protrusion
- Groin pain or discomfort, particularly while bending, coughing, or lifting
- A feeling of heaviness or dragging in your groin
- Groin pressure or a feeling of weakness
- When the projecting intestine drops into the scrotum, there may occasionally be pain and swelling around the testicles.
Signs and symptoms in children
A weakening in the abdominal wall that exists at birth causes inguinal hernias in infants and young children. Sometimes the hernia won’t be apparent unless the baby is crying, coughing, or having difficulties during bowel movement. When an older child coughs, stretches during bowel movements, or stands for an extended amount of time, a hernia is likely to be more noticeable.
The contents of the hernia may become imprisoned (incarcerated) in the abdominal wall if you are unable to push it in. An incarcerated hernia may become strangulated, cutting off the blood supply to the trapped tissue. If a strangulated hernia is not treated, it may be fatal.
Strangulated hernia warning signs and symptoms include:
- Acute, sudden pain that gets worse quickly
- Unable to defecate or pass gas
- A darkening, purple, or red hernia bulge
- Nausea, vomiting or both
If a hernia bulge turns red, purple, or dark, or if you observe any other symptoms or indicators of a strangulated hernia, seek emergency medical attention.
If you have a protrusion on either side of your pubic bone that is painful or obvious, visit your doctor. Standing up will make the bulge more apparent, and if you put your hand exactly over the affected area, you may feel it.
Some inguinal hernias have an unknown cause. Others could happen because of:
- Extreme activity
- Chronic coughing or sneezing
- An increase in abdominal pressure
- Constraints when urinating or having bowel motions
- Jobs where standing is required for long periods of time
- Normal tissue aging and deterioration
- An abdominal wall that has a weak area that already existed
- Congenital variations in your connective tissue’s strength (collagen)
In many cases, a weakness in the abdominal wall muscle that prevents the muscle from correctly closing before birth causes the abdominal wall weakness that results in an inguinal hernia. Other inguinal hernias appear later in life as a result of muscular deterioration brought on by aging, severe exercise, or smoking-related coughing.
Following an injury or abdominal surgery, the abdominal wall can also develop weaknesses.
The inguinal canal, where the spermatic cord enters the scrotum, is typically where the weak spot in men is located. Hernias can sometimes develop where connective tissue from the uterus joins to the tissue surrounding the pubic bone in women because the inguinal canal includes a ligament that aids in holding the uterus in place.
The following factors can result in an inguinal hernia:
- White complexion.
- Male. Inguinal hernias are eight times more common in men than in women.
- Old age. As you get older, your muscles become weak.
- Family history. Having a close relative who has the illness, like a parent or sibling.
- Chronic cough. From smoking.
- Chronic constipation. Having a constipation result in strained bowel movements.
- Previous inguinal hernia or hernia repair. Even if your previous inguinal hernia happened while you were a youngster, you are more likely to experience another one.
- Premature birth and low birth weight. Babies that are born prematurely or with a low birth weight are more likely to develop inguinal hernias.
- Pregnancy. The abdominal muscles can become weakened during pregnancy, which can lead to an increase in abdominal pressure.