Do Hernias Heal Themselves?

There is a weak part in abdominal muscles where the abdomen joins the thigh, known as the inguinal canal. Normally this canal is tightly closed and only some nerves and blood vessels pass through it. Sometimes a part of the sac containing intestines passes through it and can be seen or felt, this is known as an inguinal hernia. It becomes prominent when sneezing, coughing, during pushing down or straining. These develop spontaneously, but do hernias heal themselves? Let’s find out.

Symptoms of Hernia

A visible or palpable lump is usually the only symptom of hernia. The symptoms depend upon the site and extent of hernias. The most common symptoms associated with all hernias are presence of a lump, pain, discomfort and pressure.

In case of inguinal hernia, this can be felt or seen on the side of the pubic bone, at the junction of thigh and groin, and is more prominent while straining or standing.

An umbilical hernia can result in a bulging belly button and in babies it is more visible when they are crying.

A hiatus hernia can lead to acid reflux, difficulty in swallowing or chest pain. These are not visible and are discovered during medical checkups.

Do Hernias Heal Themselves?

No, hernias do not heal by themselves and require surgical correction if the symptoms are severe.

Some hernias do not need treatment immediately and only observation is required, but they won't go away. Surgery is recommended if there is a lot of pain or any other complications. The most common reason for otherwise healthy adults to have a surgery is for the correction of inguinal hernia.

Hernias can be repaired by using either conventional or minimally invasive laparoscopic surgical techniques. The opening is closed and a mesh is placed to strengthen that area and to prevent any future recurrence.

The results are better with open surgery but the recovery time is longer. Laparoscopic repair requires less time to recover. The ideal surgical option is decided by surgeons and it depends upon many factors like the size and site of hernia and the condition of the patient undergoing surgery.

A Quick Note

Do hernias heal themselves? No they don't, surgical repair is recommended in all cases. The only exception is if the general health of the patient does not allow him to undergo the stress of surgery or if the hernia is too large. In these cases binders and belts can be used to compress them. Activities which raise intra-abdominal pressure like lifting weights, coughing or straining should be avoided because they can aggravate the hernia.

Other Treatment Options That May Help

1. Lifestyle Changes

Making certain lifestyle changes can greatly reduce the symptoms, especially if you have a hiatus hernia. To prevent acid reflux and discomfort, do not take heavy meals and try not to lie down immediately after having food. Spicy and greasy foods can also lead to more heartburn and can aggravate symptoms.

To avoid discomfort try to avoid the triggers for acid production like smoking. Keep your weight in a healthy range.

2. Medication

The symptoms of hiatus hernia can be controlled by various medicines like ant-acids, H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors.

3. Additional Tips to Help

  • If you have any allergies, get them treated to prevent excessive sneezing and repeated bouts of coughing. There are some very effective natural remedies like quercetin and freeze-dried stinging nettles which control allergies. If your cough or sneezing is severe, you can take antihistamines or other cough suppressants.
  • It is important to lose weight if you have a hernia. Reduce the amount of caloric intake and do not do exercises which put undue stress on the abdominal wall or the hernia site. It is better to talk to some professional regarding which exercise is best suitable for you.
  • A hernia truss or a belt can be used for a shorter period of time but surgery is the only treatment option for a hernia and these cannot replace a surgical correction for hernia treatment.

Can It Be Prevented?

While the answer to "do hernias heal themselves" is a no, there are many preventive measures which can be taken to prevent the development of inguinal hernia. Strengthening abdominal muscles and reducing strain on them is the main objective and this is how you can prevent a hernia:

  • Keep an eye on your weight: Having a weight within acceptable limits according to your height and age is extremely important for your overall health. Have a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Do talk to a trainer about the risk of developing a hernia following a particular workout.
  • Be careful while lifting heavy weights: You can damage your back and put yourself at a greater risk of developing a hernia if you do not do it properly. Bend your knees while lifting any weights and do not put extra stress on your back or waist.
  • Have more high fiber food: Constipation can be a risk factor for the development of an inguinal hernia as straining puts extra pressure on abdominal muscles and can increase the chances of developing a hernia. Have a lot of fruit, vegetables and whole grains to avoid constipation.
  • Quit smoking: Smokers tend to have smokers cough and repeated bouts of coughing can put you at an increases risk for developing inguinal hernia. Quitting smoking is extremely beneficial for your general well-being as well.
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