Hernia occurs when an organ protrudes through an opening or a tissue that keeps it in place. There are several types of hernia including inguinal, incisional, hiatal, and more. While some hernias have visible symptoms such as a lump or acidity in stomach, others are asymptotic. The latter type of hernia is often difficult to diagnose. Since the type of hernia varies from person to person, so are the treatment options. But before we discuss the treatment options, let’s see how hernias are diagnosed.
Types of Hernia
Inguinal Hernia: This is one of the most common types of hernia. This happens when an extra part protrudes from the weak spots of an intestine into the abdominal wall or the inguinal canal. This usually happens due to lifting heavy objects, but it can also be caused by hereditary reasons. This is more common in men than in women.
Hiatal Hernia: This occurs when part of the stomach protrudes and reaches the chest area. This extra part passes through the hiatus which is an opening in the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a muscular wall separating the chest cavity from the abdomen. This is more common in people above the age of 50.
Femoral Hernia: This hernia occurs when a portion of the intestine bulges through a weak area in the abdominal wall near the tree. The bulge may be detected in the upper region of the thigh, under the groin. Activities which exert strain on the thigh area can lead to pain.
Umbilical hernia: This occurs only in children under six months old. This happens when their intestines bulge through their abdominal wall, near their belly button. Usually, it goes away by itself after some time, but if it doesn’t it would be better to go under the knife.
Incisional hernia: This can happen after you had an abdominal surgery due to some other reason. After a surgery, your tissues are weak. This can cause part of the intestines to bulge out.
Diagnosis of Hernia
A healthcare provider performs physical tests and examinations to diagnose the hernia. He/she also discusses with the patient about other common signs and symptoms such as heartburn, stomach acidity, strain, weakness and more to identify whether he or she is having hernia or not. Ultrasound and abdominal X-rays are also performed in order to determine hidden sorts of hernia, such as femoral hernia and bowel obstruction, respectively. Once the hernia is diagnosed, the healthcare provider moves on to suggest treatment options available for the patient.
Treatment Options for Hernia
Hernia can be treated by medications and alternative treatment options - including yoga, meditation, and acupuncture therapy. However, when the combination of these methods fail to ease the pain and discomfort of the patient, surgery remains the last resort. Let’s learn about all the treatment options available for hernia patients.
1) Medications: If you are experiencing symptoms like burning in the stomach, as in case of hiatal hernia, over-the-counter and prescription medicines are available. You should take the advice of your doctor before consuming these medications to prevent the risk of worsening the condition. While homeopathy treatment can also be used to treat hernia, it must not be combined with conventional medicine as they could react with each other negatively, causing several other health problems. It’s advisable to stick to a single treatment option – homeopathy or allopathy – and discuss with your doctor immediately if you are already following other treatment options.
2) Herbal remedies: Certain herbal remedies such as ginger root and chamomile have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the pain associated with hernia. They can also help heal hernia and reduce its size considerably. Licorice is a herb that helps heal the damaged area surrounding the stomach lining and esophagus. It also eases the burning sensation and pain in the chest. But it is always wise to consult your doctor before using licorice. While there is no sufficient evidence currently available that supports the effectiveness of these herbal remedies, you can give it a try after consulting your doctor.
3) Acupuncture: Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese treatment option long known for its ability to repair a small hernia. If your hernia has not yet grown to a larger size, you can definitely give acupuncture a try. This treatment option focuses on removing the problem from the roots. It strengthens the pathway linked to the location of hernia to remove blockages and improve the flow of energy.
4) Surgery: The conventional hernia surgery called herniorrhaphy is administered under local or general anesthesia. Laparoscopic and open surgery are the two types of surgeries suggested for repairing hernia. In most cases, laparoscopic surgery is performed because it has a shorter recovery period and the person experiences less pain after the operation. A small incision is done at the place of the hernia. Sometimes the bulging organ gets strangulated which cuts off the blood supply. When this happens, part of the organ where oxygen supply has stopped is removed. The damaged muscle is repaired later on with tissue or synthetic mesh. In case of laparoscopic and open surgery, the person can resume normal activities within 1-2 weeks. There are no dietary restrictions, but heavy lifting should be avoided for a few weeks.
5) Lifestyle changes: Especially in case of a hiatal hernia, lifestyle change can prove beneficial. Avoid eating in excess amount. Eat only what is sufficient for your body. Do not instantly lie down or bend after a meal. It is always good to have a brisk walk after a meal. Also maintain your Body Mass Index (BMI) ratio. Avoid consumption of alcohol or smoking cigarettes. Try to control your cravings for spicy food. Though it is not always necessary that your diet would heal the hernia, it would definitely help improve your condition.
6) Yoga: Yoga helps to strengthen the muscles around your abdomen. This can be helpful if your hernia hasn’t grown too big. There are many yoga postures which you can do within a minute to help heal hernia.