Inguinal Hernia: Causes and Treatments

The sharp pain in his groin woke Hassan up from his deep sleep. It was unbearable. He tried to ignore it and returned to sleep, thinking it was just a muscle cramp. However, the pain persisted, and soon he realized it was not just a simple cramp. He immediately sought medical attention and was diagnosed with an inguinal hernia. He had no idea what it was or how he got it, but he knew he needed treatment.


Inguinal hernia is a common condition where tissue protrudes through a weak spot in the lower abdominal (groin) muscles. It primarily affects men and is causes a bulge in the groin area, which can be painful and uncomfortable. 

Causes of Inguinal Hernia

An inguinal hernia occurs when there is a weakness in the abdominal muscles. The following are the common causes of inguinal hernia:

  1. Age

As we age, our muscles weaken, and the risk of developing inguinal hernia increases. Men over 50 are more likely to develop an inguinal hernia than younger men.

  1. Chronic coughing

Chronic cough can cause strain on the abdominal muscles, which can lead to an inguinal hernia. This is common among smokers and people with chronic lung disease.

  1. Pregnancy

Pregnancy can also increase the risk of inguinal hernia. The pressure on the abdomen during pregnancy can cause the abdominal and groin muscles to weaken.

  1. Heavy lifting

Heavy lifting or strenuous physical activities that require using the abdominal muscles can cause an inguinal hernia.

Symptoms of Inguinal Hernia

The most common symptom of an inguinal hernia is a bulge in the groin area. Other symptoms include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the groin area, especially when lifting or bending over.
  • A feeling of heaviness or pressure in the groin area.
  • Swelling or enlargement of the scrotum in men.
  • Aching or burning sensation in the affected area.

You should seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

Diagnosis of Inguinal Hernia

Inguinal hernia can be diagnosed through physical examination and imaging tests such as ultrasound, MRI, or CT scan. During the physical examination, the doctor will ask you to cough or strain, making the bulge more visible. Imaging tests will help to confirm the diagnosis and determine the severity of the hernia.

Treatment of Inguinal Hernia

Inguinal hernia requires medical attention, and various treatment options are available depending on the severity of the condition.

  1. Watchful waiting

An inguinal hernia that is not causing any symptoms may not require treatment. The doctor may advise you to monitor the hernia and seek medical attention if it becomes painful or uncomfortable.

  1. Lifestyle changes

Making lifestyle changes such as avoiding heavy lifting, quitting smoking, and losing weight can help prevent the hernia from worsening.

  1. Hernia truss

A hernia truss is a supportive undergarment that can help to reduce the bulge and relieve the pain associated with an inguinal hernia.

  1. SurgerySurgery is the most effective treatment for inguinal hernia. It involves pushing the protruding tissue back into the abdomen and strengthening the weakened abdominal muscles. There are two types of hernia surgery: open surgery and laparoscopic surgery.

Open surgery involves making a large incision in the groin area and using sutures or mesh to repair the hernia. On the other hand, laparoscopic surgery involves making small incisions and using a camera and specialized instruments to repair the hernia. Both types of surgery are effective, but laparoscopic surgery has a faster recovery time and less scarring.

Inguinal hernia surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis and under general anesthesia. After surgery, the patient may experience pain, swelling, and bruising in the groin area, but these symptoms usually subside within a few weeks. Recovery time may vary from person to person, but most people can resume normal activities within a few weeks.

Complications of Inguinal Hernia

If left untreated, an inguinal hernia can lead to severe complications such as strangulation and obstruction. Strangulation occurs when the tissue protruding through the hernia becomes trapped, and the blood supply is cut off, leading to tissue death. Obstruction occurs when the hernia blocks the bowel, leading to severe pain, nausea, and vomiting. These complications require immediate medical attention and may require emergency surgery.

Prevention of Inguinal Hernia

Although one can't completely prevent inguinal hernia, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoid heavy lifting.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Treat chronic cough or respiratory conditions.
  • Avoid straining during bowel movements.

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