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NHS Choices Condition

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The main symptom of a hernia is the appearance of a lump in your abdomen or groin area. The lump may be painless and only be discovered during a check-up.

In some cases, you may be able to push the lump back into your abdomen. This is known as a reducible hernia. A hernia that cannot be pushed back into place is known as an irreducible hernia. People with irreducible hernias are more likely to experience a bowel obstruction or an interruption of blood supply to the intestine, which is known as a strangulated hernia.

In some people, certain activities can cause a hernia to become painful. These activities include:

  • bending over,
  • lifting heavy objects,
  • coughing, and
  • having sex.

In some cases of inguinal hernias, the intestine can press down into the scrotum. This can cause pain and swelling around the testicles.

Symptoms of a bowel obstruction

There is a small chance that a section of intestine could become trapped in the weak spot. This could cause a blockage of the bowel and prevent you from being able to pass stools.

The symptoms of a bowel obstruction usually develop rapidly and include:

  • intense pain,
  • feeling bloated and full,
  • nausea, and
  • vomiting.


Symptoms of a strangulated hernia

Another possible complication is that the section of intestine becomes so firmly wedged against the abdominal muscles that it loses the blood supply (strangulated hernia).

The symptoms of a strangulated hernia include:

  • a steady pain that gradually gets worse,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • swelling,
  • pain when the hernia is touched, and
  • red skin around the hernia.


When to seek medical advice

You should always see your GP if you think you have a hernia. Even if the hernia is not causing you pain, you may need to be referred to a surgeon. Surgery may be needed to prevent a bowel obstruction or a strangulated hernia occurring.

Dial 999 and to request an ambulance if you think that you are experiencing the symptoms of a bowel obstruction or a strangulated hernia.

Both a bowel obstruction and a strangulated hernia can be life-threatening and require emergency surgery. Approximately five in 100 of all hernia surgeries are carried out on an emergency basis.

view information about Hernia on www.nhs.co.uk »

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