Hernias are a common phenomenon in which preperitoneal fat or small intestine comes through a hole in the abdomen wall and, usually in the groin area and the umbilicus. These protrusions can generally be seen and felt. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more than 700,000 hernia cases a year in the United States alone. There are different types of hernias, and depending on the location, there may be different causes and treatments. The most common types of hernias are inguinal, umbilical, incisional, femoral, and hiatal.
Causes of Inguinal Hernias
Inguinal hernias occur when the intestines bulge into the inguinal canal, the passage that extends through the abdominal wall and contains nerves and blood vessels vital to the groin area. Most hernias are inguinal, and they occur because of natural weakness in the area. Many inguinal hernias seem to have no cause, but there are some reasons they may occur.
- Increased pressure in the abdomen
- A weak spot in the abdominal wall, often due to age
- Straining during bowel movements
- Excessive coughing or sneezing
Causes of Umbilical Hernias
Umbilical hernias happen when the intestine protrudes through the belly button. Although this usually affects children under five years old, it can happen to adults. In children, this typically happens because the spot where the umbilical cord used to come from didn’t develop properly. In adults, the cause is usually due to increased pressure in the area.
Causes of Incisional Hernias
Incisional hernias are the result of surgery, and arise in the areas surrounding incisions from the chest to the groin.
Causes of Femoral Hernias
Femoral hernias occur near the femoral artery in the inner thigh and groin area. Much like inguinal hernias, sometimes the cause isn’t obvious. However, there are definitely contributing factors that may lead to femoral hernias down the road.
- Excessive pressure when passing urine or stool
- Lifting or pushing heavy objects
- Persistent, strong cough
- Giving birth
- Receiving dialysis
- Abnormal buildup of abdominal fluid
Causes of Hiatal Hernias
Hiatal hernias arise when the uppermost part of the stomach gets pushed through the little space in the diaphragm where the esophagus passes through. There are a few primary reasons these could occur.
- Injury to the area
- Age-related changes to the diaphragm
- Being born with a large hiatus
- Persistent and increased pressure to the area
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