15:24 PM

What Is a Hernia?

If you have a lump in your belly or groin, it might be a hernia. But how do you know for sure? And what happens if you do have a hernia?

Identifying a hernia

Hernias develop when the stomach, intestines or other organs in your abdomen poke through a tear or weak spot in the muscle. Depending on the type of hernia you have and where it is in your body, you may experience intense pain, heartburn or develop acid reflux disease.

There are several different types of hernias, including:

  • Femoral hernias: These are more common in women and appear on the upper thigh.

  • Inguinal (groin) hernias: More likely to occur in men, these occur when there’s a weakness in the muscles and tissues of the groin.

  • Hiatal hernias: These develop when the stomach bulges upward through a wall of muscle into the chest.

  • Umbilical hernias: Babies are sometimes born with hernias that form when the muscles around the belly button don’t join properly.

Preventing complications

If you think you may have a hernia, talk with your provider. “While some hernias do not need to be managed until they start causing you pain, others need treatment quickly,” says surgeon Guillermo Garcia, MD, with LVPG General and Bariatric Surgery. “Surgery is the only way to repair a hernia.”

Surgery also prevents a serious condition known as a strangulated hernia. Although this is a rare complication, it has serious consequences as it causes the misplaced organ to lose its blood supply and requires emergency surgery.

Experiencing a hernia complication? Seek immediate medical help if you have:

  • Severe pain and redness at hernia site

  • Pressure or pain that keeps getting worse

  • Fever

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Poor appetite, nausea and vomiting


To learn more about the signs and symptoms of hernias as well as treatment options available at the LVHN Institute for Special Surgery, join us for our complimentary hernia screening event on Monday, Jan. 22. It will be held 5:30 to 7 p.m. at The Frank Banko Educational Conference Center, Room C, Lehigh Valley Hospital–Muhlenberg. For full event details, visit LVHN.org/herniascreening.