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Hernia Prevention Tips

April 05, 2021 Posted in: Primary Care

It’s that time of the year – the weather is warming and you’re thinking of weekend projects that have been on hold all winter. Sometimes that can mean strenuous activity or heavy lifting – both activities that can lead to a hernia.

A hernia occurs when contents of a body cavity protrude out of the area where they are normally contained. It’s essentially a hole that occurs because of a natural weakness in your abdomen or core muscles. When there’s a hole, your internal organs or fatty tissue can slip through, causing an unsightly or uncomfortable bulge. Hernias often are asymptomatic – meaning they produce no symptoms – or cause slight to severe pain.

Although there are several types of hernias, inguinal is the most common. Located in the groin area, this type of hernia accounts for 75 percent of abdominal hernias and occurs up to 25 times more often in men than in women. There are a few things you can do to help prevent hernias before they happen, including:

  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Eating foods high in fiber with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Drinking water to avoid constipation that comes from dehydration
  • Using proper technique when lifting something heavy (keep feet shoulder width apart, squat down and bend at the hips and knees only, lift slowly and hold the load as close to your body as possible)
  • Stopping smoking
  • Controlling allergies to avoid excess sneezing
  • Exercising to strengthen abdominal muscles

Once you have a hernia, the only way to fix it is through surgery. The good news is that most people who have a small hernia do not require immediate surgery. Because they don’t heal over time, hernias often grow bigger with movement or weight gain. That means that surgery may be necessary in the future and why it’s a good idea to have a surgeon to evaluate your hernia – even if you don’t plan to correct it right away.

In most cases, hernias can be repaired through minimally invasive laparoscopic or robotic surgery, which use small incisions roughly half an inch in size or less to pull the abdominal muscles back together and close up the hernia. Although different types of hernias take longer than others for recovery, those in groin typically are back to work with a few days to a week, with some restrictions on lifting or vigorous physical activity.

CHI Memorial Surgical Associates provides surgical hernia repair.

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