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Symptoms of a hernia

A soft lump in the groin, near the navel, or near a surgical scar may be caused by a weakening in a muscle wall. This is called a hernia. It is formed when an internal organ (usually the bowel) pushes out through the muscle. The lump or swelling usually goes away when you press on it or lie down and may get worse when you cough.

Although pain is not always present, a hernia can cause pain, which can range from mild tenderness to severe pain. A hernia can also cause nausea and vomiting when a part of an organ, usually an intestine, bulges outside the abdomen and becomes trapped (incarcerated).

Recommended Related to Digestive Disorders

Understanding Hernia -- the Basics

A hernia occurs when an organ or fatty tissue squeezes through a weak spot in a surrounding muscle or connective tissue called fascia. The most common types of hernia are inguinal (inner groin), incisional (resulting from an incision), femoral (outer groin), umbilical (belly button), and hiatal (upper stomach). In an inguinal hernia, the intestine or the bladder protrudes through the abdominal wall or into the inguinal canal in the groin. About 80% of all hernias are inguinal, and most occur...

Read the Understanding Hernia -- the Basics article > >

Treatment for a hernia depends on your age and health and the location and severity of the hernia.

  • The hernia may be allowed to close on its own in some cases, such as a newborn who has an umbilical hernia.
  • Emergency surgery may be required to prevent serious complications in other cases, such as an incarcerated hernia or strangulated hernia.

A hernia at the site of a previous surgery should be evaluated by the surgeon who performed the surgery to determine the cause and treatment.

Author Jan Nissl, RN, BS
Editor Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA
Associate Editor Tracy Landauer
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Alexander H. Murray, MD, FRCPC - Dermatology
Last Updated May 6, 2009

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 06, 2009
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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