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What Is a Hernia?

A hernia occurs when the inside layers of the abdominal wall weaken and then bulge or tear. The inner lining of the abdomen pushes through the weakened area to form a balloon-like sac. This, in turn, can cause a loop of intestine or abdominal tissue to slip into the sac, causing pain and other potentially serious health problems.

A hernia can happen to anyone, regardless of age or sex. It is usually felt as a small lump, but if left untreated, can grow to any size. There have been cases in which an untreated hernia has grown to the size of a football, and even larger hernias have been recorded. The hernia can become quite visible to the sufferer and to other people as it presses against the skin.

An untreated hernia may be complicated by:

  • Inflammation
  • Irreducibility
  • Obstruction of any lumen, such as bowel obstruction in intestinal hernias
  • Strangulation
  • Hydrocele of the hernial sac
  • Haemorrhage
  • Autoimmune problems
  • Incarceration

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