While everyone can get a hernia, two different people can lift the same heavy object in exactly the same way and one subsequently feels the telltale bulge on his lower abdomen of a hernia while the other person has no repercussions.
Why is this?
In this humid July blog in the city, let’s get into the basic causes of hernias and let’s throw in a few methods for helping to ensure you don’t get one. Hernias aren’t always preventable, but you can try, right?
What causes a hernia?
Hernias are caused by a combination of muscle weakness and strain. Depending on the cause, they can develop immediately or over a long period of time.
These are some common causes of the muscle weakness or strain that open the door to a hernia developing:
- A congenital condition that occurs during development in the womb
- Damage from an injury or adjacent surgery
- Strenuous exercise
- Lifting heavy weights
- Chronic coughing or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)
- Pregnancy, especially having multiple pregnancies
- Constipation that causes straining during bowel movements
- Being overweight or obese
- Fluid in the abdomen
Most of those causes, such as being obese, can also be considered risk factors.
Is there any way to prevent a hernia?
If your hernia is due to a congenital or genetic condition or it is a result of a prior surgery, there’s no way to prevent occurrence. Otherwise, there are some lifestyle choices that can work to reduce the amount of strain you place on your body:
- Stop smoking
- Go to the doctor if you’re starting to have a persistent cough
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Don’t strain when having a bowel movement or when urinating
- Eat enough high fiber foods to prevent constipation
- Perform exercises, such as planks, that help to strengthen your abdominal muscles (this will have the side benefit of helping prevent back injuries, as well)
- Avoid lifting weights that are above your comfort level
- When you do lift things, do so properly by bending at the knees, not your waist or back
If you tried your best, but one day awoke with that bulge in the abdominal or groin area, you have a hernia. It’s time to see New York’s preeminent hernia specialist, Dr. Jacob. Call him at 212-879-6677 or fill out a contact form down at the bottom of this page.