Complications and Prevention of Hernia

Prevent Hernia

The development of hernia happens when a portion of the intestine or an abdominal tissue protrudes through a weakened muscle layer. This usually occurs when an organ pushes itself through a muscular opening or tissue which actually holds it.

Hernias are most common in the abdomen but can also develop in the upper thigh, naval and groin areas. Though most hernias may not pose immediate life-threatening problems, they may not resolve on their own. Treatment may involve surgery to avoid further complications.

Complications of Hernia

When left untreated, the hernia is likely to grow bigger in size and become painful. Untreated hernias also exert high pressure on the adjoining tissues leading to inflammation and pain in the surrounding areas. Sometimes, a part of the intestine can get trapped in the abdominal wall leading to the obstruction of bowel movements. This can cause severe pain, nausea and constipation. 

In more serious cases, there is an impediment to proper blood circulation due to trapping of the intestines causing strangulation. This causes infection or death of the intestinal tissue and can result in life-threatening situations. Therefore, strangulated hernia requires immediate medical attention. 

Prevention of Hernia

  • Making appropriate modifications in the prevailing lifestyle - This can be achieved in the following ways:    
    • Maintaining a healthy weight and good body shape - As hernias are more prevalent in people who are overweight or in poor shape, it can be avoided by incorporating dietary changes and exercise regimes to control body weight. Initially, low-impact activities may be done to build sustenance and gradually high-intensity workouts may be added as the body gets stronger. Exercises that strengthen the abdomen and back muscles must be given priority. Also, the schedules must ensure thirty minutes of exercise everyday for atleast five days a week.
    • Consuming high-fibre foods - Since constipation happens to be a potential cause for hernia, it may be prevented by eating fibre-rich foods like fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods(brown rice, oats, wheat pasta)and consuming plenty of fluids
    • Avoiding long-term usage of supportive garments - Supportive garments may be used only for a short while after surgery for holding the hernia in place. Using them while lifting heavy objects and weights does not lower the risk of developing a hernia.
    • Usage of correct postures - Ideally, it is recommended to avoid the lifting of heavy objects to prevent hernia. However, if lifting is inevitable, a good posture must be maintained by keeping the back erect and tightening the abdominal muscles. Additionally, the workload must be borne by the leg muscles instead of the back. The entire body must be used for turning rather than merely twisting the waist.
    • Quitting the habit of smoking - Smoking leads to persistent and hard coughing which results in a hernia. Hence smokers are strongly advised to quit this unhealthy habit by seeking medical intervention or enrolling in smoking cessation programs.
    • Avoiding tight-fitting clothes - It is better to wear loose-fitting and comfortable clothes particularly around the waist region to avoid pressure on the abdomen.
    • Remaining upright after eating - It is advisable to avoid bending activities and lying down immediately after eating as it increases the chances of developing hernias. Rather reclining on a chair or sitting upright is recommended.
  • Decreasing the risk of Hernia while exercising – The following steps are necessary:
    • Commencing workouts with warm-up exercises to avoid sudden exertion
    • Maintaining a good form by avoiding jerky movements and using slow and steady movements
    • Reducing high-intensity exercises when you experience pain or discomfort
    • Strengthening the core body areas under the supervision of a professional trainer
  • Seeking medical help – It is strongly recommended to seek medical help if severe symptoms develop. Surgical options must be thoroughly discussed with the doctor before opting for it. Trusses may be used temporarily upon medical advice to keep the hernia in place before surgical treatment.

For more information, please consult these Hernia Surgery Specialists.

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