An inguinal hernia is a bulge that forms in the groin area. It occurs when a weak spot in the abdominal wall allows part of the intestine to push through. Inguinal hernias are more common in men than women, and they are most likely to occur in people over the age of 40.
Inguinal Risk Factors
Inguinal hernias are a common type of hernia that occurs when the intestine or abdominal tissues protrude through a weak spot in the inguinal canal, which is located in the groin area. Some of the risk factors that may increase the likelihood of developing an inguinal hernia include:
Age: As people age, the muscles and tissues in the groin area may weaken, making it easier for a hernia to develop.
Gender: Men are more likely to develop inguinal hernias than women. This is because men have a natural weak spot in the inguinal canal that allows the testicles to descend into the scrotum during fetal development.
Family history: If a family member has had an inguinal hernia, there may be a higher risk of developing one.
Chronic coughing or sneezing: Conditions that cause frequent coughing or sneezing, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or allergies, straining the groin area muscles.
Straining during bowel movements: Constipation or other conditions that require excessive straining during bowel movements can increase pressure in the abdominal area and weaken the muscles in the groin.
Pregnancy: The increased pressure on the abdomen during pregnancy can weaken the muscles in the groin and increase the risk of a hernia.
Obesity: Being overweight or obese can increase pressure on the abdomen and weaken the muscles in the groin.
Heavy lifting or physical exertion: Activities that involve heavy lifting or straining can put pressure on the muscles in the groin area and increase the risk of a hernia.
It is important to note that while these factors may increase the likelihood of developing an inguinal hernia, many people with no identifiable risk factors can also develop a hernia.
Ways to Lower Your Inguinal Hernia Risks
There are a number of things you can do to lower your risk of developing an inguinal hernia in the future. These include:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese places extra pressure on your abdominal muscles, which makes them weaker. This increases your risk of developing a hernia. To maintain a healthy weight, you should aim to eat a balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. You should also try to exercise regularly, which can help you burn calories and build muscle.
- Quit smoking. Smoking can weaken the tissues in your body, including those in your abdominal wall.
- Lift with your legs, not your back. When you lift heavy objects, use your legs to do the work, not your back. This helps to prevent strain on your abdominal wall.
- Avoid straining during bowel movements. Straining during bowel movements increases pressure on your abdominal wall, elevating your risk of developing an inguinal hernia.
- Strengthen your abdominal muscles. Strong abdominal muscles help to support the abdominal wall and reduce your risk of developing an inguinal hernia. You can strengthen your abdominal muscles by doing exercises, such as crunches and sit-ups.
- Wear a hernia belt. A hernia belt helps to support the hernia and lowers the risk of it strangulating.
- Avoid activities that put a strain on your abdominal wall. This includes lifting heavy objects, straining during bowel movements, and coughing or sneezing forcefully.
- Lose weight if you are overweight or obese. Losing weight helps to reduce the pressure on your abdominal wall, making it less likely that the hernia will get worse.
- Quit smoking. Smoking weakens the tissues in your body, including those in the abdominal wall. Quit smoking to help to prevent the hernia from getting worse.
- See your doctor regularly for checkups. Your doctor will monitor the hernia and make sure that it is not getting worse. If the hernia does get worse, they may recommend surgery to repair it.
- Manage stress. Stress weakens the immune system and makes you more vulnerable to illness.
- Take breaks when sitting or standing for long periods. If you sit or stand for long periods of time, breaks help to lower your risk of developing an inguinal hernia. Prolonged sitting or standing puts extra pressure on your abdominal muscles, which causes them to weaken over time. To reduce this pressure, take breaks every 30 minutes to stretch and move around. This helps to relieve the strain on your abdominal muscles and reduces your risk of developing a hernia.
- Be careful with strenuous exercise. Strenuous exercise can also increase your risk of developing an inguinal hernia. Activities that involve jumping, twisting, or sudden movements increase the strain on your abdominal muscles, which weakens them over time. If you participate in these types of activities, be sure to use proper technique and take breaks when necessary. This helps to reduce the strain on your abdominal muscles lowering your risk of developing a hernia.
- See your doctor if you have any concerns.
Inguinal hernias are a common condition, but they are manageable. By following the tips above, you can reduce your risk of developing an inguinal hernia in the future and manage the condition if you already have one.
To find out if inguinal hernia repair surgery is right for you, Contact Orange County General Robotic Surgery at (714) 706-1257 for a consultation with Dr. Abtin H. Khosravi.