Inguinal hernias are the most common type of hernia. Two thirds of all hernias are this type. They occur in the lower abdomen in the inguinal canal.
Most inguinal hernias are experienced by men. Women are generally protected from getting this type of hernia because of abdominal anatomy. The uterus is located just behind the abdominal and is supportive and protective. Babies can also be born with an inguinal hernia. This is caused by a failure of the abdominal wall to close fully in the womb. Surgery is always required. Those born with an inguinal hernia are at risk for reoccurrence later in life.
Risks of getting an inguinal hernia include smoking and previous abdominal surgery. A hernia can occur while coughing or lifting a heavy object. These activities contribute to a hernia in the presence of an already weakened abdominal wall.
The risk of recurrence is highest in the first 5 years after surgery. Up to 10% of hernias recur. The use of surgical mesh has been known to prevent recurrence of hernias. Most inguinal hernias require surgery and most of these include using surgical mesh as an additional support for the abdominal wall.
Some hernias don’t require surgery if the hernia is small and painless. Consultation with a physician is important to assess and diagnose the hernia to prevent future complications. Complications that can occur include strangulation of the intestine. The intestine can get caught in the hernia causing loss of blood flow to the intestine causing part of the intestine to die. This is a medical emergency.
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