What causes a hernia?

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with a hernia and are not sure what caused it? Learn from the hernia surgeons at the Hernia Center of Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) about what causes hernias, what factors put you at higher risk of developing one and how to prevent them.  

What is a hernia?

A hernia is a hole or defect in the abdominal wall allowing things normally on the inside to escape to the outside of wall. Hernias are a common condition caused by strain combined with muscle weakness in the abdomen or groin. In some patients, hernias develop over a long period where, in others, they develop quickly. Some patients experience pain associated with hernias, while others are asymptomatic. 

In many cases, if left untreated, hernias can cause dangerous complications. Spending a few minutes educating yourself on the causes and risk factors can help you prevent a hernia or, if needed, take the necessary steps to have the hernia treated. Treatment is common and can help you get back to your normal life quicker and with less pain. 

Causes of Hernias

Common causes of hernias include: 

  • Muscle weakness after surgery 
  • Straining to urinate or have a bowel movement 
  • Chronic coughing from conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder 
  • Injury from lifting heavy objects or weights 
  • Strenuous exercise 
  • Being pregnant multiple times 
  • Congenital defect that occurs in the womb and present at birth 
  • Enlarged prostate 
  • Poor nutrition 

Risk Factors

While risk factors vary based on the type of hernia you have, the most common risk factors for developing a hernia include: 

  • Older age 
  • Family history of hernias 
  • Obesity 
  • Pregnancy 
  • Smoking 
  • Born prematurely with a low birth weight 
  • Chronic constipation 
  • Cystic fibrosis 
  • Chronic cough 

Tips to Help Prevent a Hernia

If you think you are at risk of having a hernia, there are a variety of things you can to do help prevent them: 

  • Eat a nutritious diet 
  • Stop smoking 
  • Lose weight (if you are overweight or obese) 
  • Seek treatment for a persistent cough 
  • Avoid straining when using the bathroom 

Talk to your doctor about other specific things you can do to prevent yourself from developing a hernia. 

Next Steps

If you think you have a hernia, schedule an appointment with one of our surgeons at the Hernia Center of Northeast Georgia Medical Center. The Hernia Center is Georgia’s first accredited Hernia Surgery Center of Excellence and offers you access to the most advanced robotic and minimally invasive surgical techniques for hernia repair.