Inguinal Hernia - Topic Overview
If you do not have an inguinal hernia, see
common types of hernias. These include incisional, epigastric, and umbilical hernias in children and adults.
An inguinal hernia
(say "IN-gwuh-nul HER-nee-uh") occurs when tissue pushes through a weak spot in
your groin muscle. This causes a bulge in the groin or scrotum. The bulge may
hurt or burn.
hernias happen because an opening in the muscle wall does not close as it
should before birth. That leaves a weak area in the belly muscle. Pressure on
that area can cause tissue to push through and bulge out. A hernia can occur
soon after birth or much later in life.
You are more likely to get
a hernia if you are overweight or you do a lot of lifting, coughing, or
straining. Hernias are more common in men. A woman may get a hernia while she
is pregnant because of the pressure on her belly wall.
The main symptom of an
inguinal hernia is a bulge in the groin or scrotum. It often feels like a round
lump. The bulge may form over a period of weeks or months. Or it may appear all
of a sudden after you have been lifting heavy weights, coughing, bending,
straining, or laughing. The hernia may be painful, but some hernias cause a
bulge without pain.
A hernia also may cause swelling and a feeling
of heaviness, tugging, or burning in the area of the hernia. These symptoms may
get better when you lie down.
Sudden pain, nausea, and vomiting
are signs that a part of your intestine may have become trapped in the hernia.
Call your doctor if you have a hernia and have these symptoms.
A doctor can
usually know if you have a hernia based on your symptoms and a physical exam.
The bulge is usually easy to feel.