Do you feel a soft lump in your belly or groin or in a scar where you had surgery in the past? The lump may go away when you press on it or lie down. It may be painful, especially when you cough, bend over or lift something heavy. If your answer to the above is yes, then you may very well have a hernia.
Hernia: What is it?
A hernia is a portion of the intestine, another organ or fat pushing through an area where the muscles are weak. There really is no fool-proof method to prevent a hernia or a hernia recurrence after surgery, but maintaining a healthy weight, doing exercises to tone up the muscles of your abdomen, and eating a high-fibre diet to prevent constipation is definitely a good idea!
Types of hernias include the following:
- Inguinal hernia
- Femoral hernia
- Umbilical hernia
- Incisional hernia
- Epigastric hernia
- Hiatal hernia
If left untreated, a hernia can increase in size and become more painful. More importantly, a hernia can lead to serious, or even life-threatening, complications like strangulation. A hernia will not go away on its own. Surgery is the only way to cure a hernia. The surgery could be laparoscopic or open.
Treatments for Hernia
In the laparoscopic approach, a laparoscope (a tiny telescope) connected to a special camera is inserted through a cannula, a small hollow tube, allowing the surgeon to view the hernia and surrounding tissue on a video screen. Other cannulas are inserted which allow your surgeon to work “inside.” Three or four quarter-inch incisions are usually necessary. Most laparoscopic hernia repairs require general anaesthesia.
The open approach is done from the outside through a three to four-inch incision in the area of the hernia. The surgeon may choose to use a small piece of surgical mesh to repair the defect or hole. This technique is usually done with a local anaesthetic and sedation but may be performed using a spinal or general anaesthetic.
Don’t Hesitate to Ask your Doctor
Your doctor will choose the approach that best suits your specific condition. But do remember, it is your body, and you know it best. Therefore, make sure to get all your doubts clarified from your doctor before you leave for the hospital. A few questions you should ask your doctor:
- What type of hernia do I have?
- What kind of surgery do you recommend and why?
- What are the risks and side effects of this surgery?
- What are my options for anaesthesia?
- Will my surgery require hospital stay?
- Will I need pain medication?
- How much time should I allow for recovery?
- What kind of incision will I have?
- How should I care for my incision after surgery?
- When will I see you for follow-up care after surgery?
- Is there a chance my hernia will recur?
- When will I be able to return to my normal activities or to work?
In the immediate post-operative period, once you have woken up from the anaesthesia, any immediate discomfort will be managed by the anaesthesia. While in the recovery room, you may experience immediate postoperative nausea, pain, dizziness and fatigue. These will all fade quickly. If you had general anaesthesia, your throat may feel sore for up to 3 days. This is from the breathing tube and can be managed with lozenges or tea with honey. If you did not have general anaesthesia, you are not likely to experience any of these.
Once you are back home from your surgery, it is most important to allow your body to heal properly. Hence, have a good sleep, relax and eat appropriately as per your doctor’s advice. The recovery period depends on the type of hernia you had, the procedure used by your surgeon and your normal levels of activity. Do take the following precautions while you recuperate:
- For up to six weeks after the surgery, it is advisable to avoid lifting heavy weights, bending excessively or operate any heavy machinery.
- Take pain medications as prescribed so that you can be comfortable in the post-operative period.
- Avoid straining yourself, especially at the site of the surgery. It is essential to avoid constipation; this can be done by adding foods with a high-fibre content to your diet like fruits, vegetables, greens and whole wheat items.
- Your return to work depends on the type of work you do. Full recovery from a hernia surgery may take anywhere from one to six weeks.
- Be sure to call your doctor if you have a persistent fever over 101 degrees, bleeding, increasing abdominal or groin swelling, pain that is not relieved by your medications, persistent nausea or vomiting, inability to urinate, persistent cough or shortness of breath, purulent drainage (pus) from any incision, redness surrounding any of your incisions that is worsening or getting bigger or if you are unable to eat or drink liquids.
We’re Here to Help
And remember, that we, at MediAssist, are here to make your hospitalization experience as hassle-free as possible by assuring you a completely cashless hospitalization. Just concentrate on recovering quickly and getting back home to be among your loved ones, and leave all your insurance claims-related worries to us.
Wish you a speedy recovery!