Not all hernias are created equal. The most common type is the inguinal hernia, which due to complicated and boring anatomy, seems to herniate often. A hernia is simply put a tear and through that tear stuff can come out.
What comes out? Well that depends where the hernia is located. In the case of an inguinal hernia part of the intestine can be pushed through the opening, but sometimes only a little fat comes out. If the intestine can come in and out easily, the hernia probably won’t cause any major issues, except unsightly swelling around the groin. What this often means is that larger hernias are less likely to cause problems, while small ones can be the most dangerous.
In the case of a small tear, the bowel can at times become stuck. This can lead to inflammation of the intestinal wall, which in turn causes more swelling. Eventually, the swelling may be so prominent so as to threaten the blood supply to the intestine. And what results is peritonitis, a very dangerous condition.
Hernias can occur in other areas including around the belly button, and in the middle of your belly. If you are overweight this may make the hernia worse as the fat within your belly tends to push out the intestines. Weightlifters or workers who lift heavy objects regularly are also at increased risk.
Warning signs of dangerous hernias are increase in pain, vomiting, rigid or hard belly, weakness and fever. If these occur, you should go right away to the emergency room, regardless of the hour.
If you notice a bump in your groin, you should hold off lifting any heavy objects and contact your doctor within a few days.
Treatment involves surgery, which is almost always successful. However, after surgery you will need to hold off lifting, or doing crunches for several weeks in order to avoid creating a new hernia. In fact, after any belly surgery there is an increased risk of a hernia and these precautions apply as well.