By: Dr. Donna Powell & Dr. Renee M. Marchioni Beery at Gastro MD

June is Hernia Awareness Month, a time to focus on understanding hernias and their potential impact on your health. Hernias affect people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. Yet, despite their prevalence, many people are unaware of the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for hernias. Let’s explore what you should know about hernias and how you can raise awareness.

What is a Hernia?

A hernia is when an organ or tissue protrudes through a weak spot or tear in the surrounding muscle or connective tissue. The most common type of hernia is an inguinal hernia, which occurs when a portion of the intestine protrudes through a weak spot in the abdominal muscles.

Various factors, including age, genetics, and lifestyle choices, can cause hernias. Obesity, pregnancy, and heavy lifting can also increase the risk of developing a hernia.

Hernia Symptoms 

The symptoms of a hernia can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. However, common symptoms of a hernia include:

– A bulge or swelling in the affected area
– Pain or discomfort, especially when lifting or straining
– A feeling of pressure or heaviness in the affected area

– Heartburn or acid reflux (in the case of hiatal hernias)

Sometimes, a hernia may cause no symptoms, making diagnosing difficult without a physical examination.

Hernia Treatment Options 

Treatment options for hernias depend on the type and severity of the condition. Sometimes, a hernia may require surgery to repair the affected area and prevent further complications. In other cases, lifestyle changes such as weight loss, exercise, and avoiding heavy lifting may be enough to manage the symptoms of a hernia.

Raising Awareness 

Now is an excellent opportunity to educate yourself and others about this common medical condition. Here are five ways you can get involved and raise awareness:

1)     Know your risk factors: Understanding your personal risk factors for hernias can help you take preventative measures and seek medical attention early if you notice any symptoms. Factors such as age, family history, and lifestyle choices can all increase your risk for hernias.
2)     Be aware of hernia symptoms beyond the obvious bulge: While a visible bulge is often the most recognizable symptom, other symptoms can indicate the presence of a hernia. These can include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and changes in bowel habits.
3)     Learn about the different types of hernias: There are several different types, each with unique symptoms and treatment options. Understanding the differences between inguinal, femoral, umbilical, hiatal, and incisional hernias can help you better recognize the signs of each type.
4)     Know when to seek medical attention: If you notice any hernia symptoms, it’s essential to seek medical attention immediately. Sometimes, a hernia can lead to severe complications such as intestinal obstruction or strangulation, which require immediate medical attention.

5)     Support hernia research and education: Donating to organizations supporting hernia research and education can help raise awareness about this common medical condition and improve treatment options for those affected.

By considering these tips, you can become a more informed and proactive participant in Hernia Awareness Month and help promote awareness and understanding of hernias in your community.