Hernias occur because of muscle weakness, often in the abdominal region, and where the cavity wall is weak. These points of weakness are usually where there is a natural gap such as the passing area of a digestive tube or blood vessel, or as a result of scar tissue.
Inguinal hernias are the most common type of hernia. In men, the inguinal canal is the area where the spermatic cord, which holds up the testicles, passes from the abdomen to the scrotum. These hernias occur when the intestines push through a weak spot or tear in the lower abdominal wall, often the inguinal canal, and protrude down the canal and into the scrotum. The reason this type of hernia is so common in men is that a man’s testicles descend through the inguinal canal shortly after birth, and sometimes the canal doesn’t close up completely and leaves a weak spot prone to hernias. Inguinal hernias can be painful, especially when you cough, bend over, or lift heavy objects.
Epigastric hernias are protrusions of fat or intestine through the upper part of the abdominal wall called the epigastrium, which is located between the navel and the breastbone. Typically, an epigastric hernia is small, with only the lining of the abdomen breaking through the surrounding tissue. However, larger hernias may cause part of the stomach or fatty tissue to push through. Many people are unaware that they even have an epigastric hernia, as smaller hernias often don’t cause many complications.
A hiatal hernia, which is most common in people over the age of 50, occurs when part of your stomach protrudes up through the diaphragm and into your chest cavity. The diaphragm, which separates the organs in your abdomen from the ones in your chest, is a sheet of muscle that helps you breathe by drawing air into the lungs. Hiatal hernias almost always cause acid reflux, which is a burning sensation in the throat from stomach contents leaking back into the oesophagus.
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