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Understanding the 5 Most Common Types of Hernias

Understanding the 5 Most Common Types of Hernias
Akanksha Nigam

What is a hernia?

A hernia is an internal organ that protrudes from a weakened spot in the tissue that contains it. Typically, hernias occur between the chest and the hips. Hernias are usually not life-threatening, but they do not go away. To prevent the condition from worsening, surgery might be required.

Hernias usually do not have any symptoms except a bulge-like appearance while standing, bending, or coughing. Sometimes this bulge is accompanied by pain and discomfort while working out or during an activity. The size and severity of pain might increase over time. There are different types of hernias because they can occur in various areas of the body where there is a weak spot or opening in the muscle or tissue. The specific location and characteristics of a hernia determine its type.

What causes a hernia?

The two main factors that cause a hernia are muscle weakness and strain. The pressure pushes an organ toward the soft spot of the muscle or tissue that contains it and causes it to protrude. Some of the causes of hernia are as follows:

  • Aging
  • Damage from an injury or a surgery
  • Excessive exercise and lifting heavy weights
  • Chronic coughing
  • Pregnancy
  • Constipation
  • Excess weight
  • A condition present from birth

What are the Types of Hernias?

1. Inguinal Hernia

An inguinal hernia is the most common type of hernia and happens when the intestine protrudes through a weakened muscle or spot in the inguinal canal in the groin. In men, this is where the spermatic cord passes from the abdomen to the scrotum and attaches to the testicles. In women, this canal contains the ligament which holds the uterus. 

The hernia can be painful while coughing, bending, or lifting something heavy. This type of hernia is not dangerous but does not go away and can become life-threatening. Surgery is required to fix an inguinal hernia that affects more men than women. Symptoms of inguinal hernia include:

  • A bulge in the pubic area
  • Burning sensation in the bulge
  • Pain or heaviness in the groin
  • Pressure or weakness in the groin
  • Occasional swelling around the testicles
type of hernia - inguinal

2. Hiatal Hernia

In a hiatal hernia, a part of the stomach moves up to the chest area, trespassing the diaphragm. The esophagus passes through an opening in the diaphragm to connect with the stomach, which moves up through this opening. A small-sized hernia does not cause much discomfort, but a large-sized hernia might require surgery. This is one of the most common types of hernias among people over 50. Some of the causes of hiatal hernia are:

  • Age
  • Injury to the area 
  • Continuous pressure on the surrounding muscles
  • Being born with an unusually large hiatus

Most Hiatal hernias do not show any symptoms unless the hernia is large. Some  symptoms include:

type of hernia - hiatal

3. Umbilical Hernia

This type of hernia is most prevalent among babies and kids. It occurs when the intestine protrudes through the wall near the belly button and as a bulge. This is the only hernia that is harmless and usually goes away with time as the muscles get stronger. If it does not go away, consult a medical professional. Adults can also have umbilical hernias.

Causes of Umbilical Hernia

  • Obesity
  • Fluid in the abdomen
  • Pregnancy
  • Previous abdominal surgery
type of hernia - Umbilical Hernia

4. Parastomal Hernia

Parastomal hernia appears when a part of the intestine sticks out of the abdomen through a stoma. A stoma is a surgically created opening that allows waste to pass from the body into a bag. This type of hernia is common among ostomates. Some of the symptoms of a parastomal hernia are:

Causes of parastomal hernia are

  • Malnutrition
  • Smoking
  • Chronic coughing
  • Chronic constipation
  • Obesity
  • Infection after stoma surgery
type of hernia - Parastomal hernia

5. Incisional Hernia

An incisional hernia develops along a prior surgical incision around the abdomen. The intestine pushes through the wall of the abdomen at the incision site. It is most commonly seen in elderly, overweight people, or inactive post abdominal surgery.

A noticeable bulge at the healed incision site is the first symptom of an incisional hernia. Some other symptoms include -

  • Redness and burning bulge
  • Pain that intensifies during weight lifting or straining
  • Constipation caused due to a blockage in the intestines
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
type of hernia - Incisional hernia

How to prevent a hernia?

If you have undergone surgery, the chances of getting a hernia increase. But there are ways to help prevent hernias: 

  1. Quit smoking
  2. Consult a doctor in case of persistent cough
  3. Maintain a healthy body weight
  4. Avoid straining your muscles during urination or bowel movement
  5. Consume a fiber-rich diet
  6. Perform abdomen strengthening exercises
  7. Avoid lifting heavy weights

What happens if the hernia is left untreated?

Except for the umbilical hernia, the other types of hernias do not go away independently. If left untreated, it will only grow bigger and cause more pain. After noticing a hernia, it is advisable to consult a medical professional as soon as possible. One easy way of identifying whether a lump is a hernia or not is if it disappears while lying down and reappears while standing up or bending over.

Generally, there are no apparent symptoms of a hernia, and they are discovered during routine checkups or treating other medical conditions. It may be possible to delay surgery, but when discomfort increases, it is advisable to seek medical help.

Where to buy products for hernia?

HPFY hosts a wide range of hernia belts for men and women. Here are the top 3 hernia belts:

1. AT Surgical Suspensory Scrotal Support for Men

 It is considered one of the best hernia support belts because of its great pain relief. Designed for men with a solid white waistband and breathable soft knit cotton/rayon, stretchable support pouch. It features an elasticized hole in the front that fits most males, which lifts the scrotum and testicles, and the waistband can be adjusted for a specific level of support.

2. FLA Orthopedics Soft Form Hernia Brief

This unisex brief is suitable for inguinal hernias offering exceptional abdominal support and focused compression. Designed with removable foam pads and hook-and-loop compression straps for a comfortable fit.

3. Core Scrotal Suspensory

The Core Scrotal Suspensory relieves pain in the scrotal area. It is designed to keep the user's comfort in mind. It comes with an adjustable waistband and adequate support for the testicles, making it comfortable to wear throughout the day. This product is suitable for post-operation recovery, hernia surgery, prostate issues, and other related conditions.


A hernia does not become a big problem unless it starts causing severe pain and discomfort and continuously increases in size. If you notice a lump that disappears when lying down, reach out to your healthcare provider immediately. 

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HPFY Akanksha Nigam

Akanksha Nigam

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Akanksha Nigam has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2021. With a Masters Degree in Finance, she began her Marketing career in the banking industry. However, her interest in human ...

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