Studying the Common Causes of Hernia

Posted on June 18, 2018


Hernias are common and occur in approximately 2 percent of the adult population and 4 percent of infants. Anyone can develop a hernia and at any age. So, what actually causes hernias? This article from Peconic Bay Medical Center, one of the largest medical centers in Suffolk County, NY, discusses the natural causes and risk factors of hernias.

Types of Hernias and Their Causes

A hernia occurs when an organ pushes through a weakened muscle or tissue. Hernias can be congenital or develop in individuals who have a weakness in their abdominal wall. They are most common in the abdomen, but can also appear in the belly button, upper thigh, and groin areas. The most common forms of hernias are inguinal, femoral, umbilical, and hiatal (hiatus). Other types of hernias include incisional, epigastric, spigelian, and diaphragmatic.

Inguinal and femoral hernias result from weakened muscles from birth, aging, and repeated strains on the abdomen and groin areas. You may develop an umbilical hernia by straining the abdominal area, having a chronic heavy cough, being overweight, or after giving birth. The cause of hiatal hernias isn't fully understood, but some doctors believe that a weakening of the diaphragm, with age or pressure on the abdomen, could play a part.

When your muscles and tissues become weak from constant pressure, your body “gives in” to the pressure. This results in hernias. Activities and medical problems that increase pressure on the abdominal wall can lead to a hernia. These include:

  • straining on the toilet due to long-term constipation
  • a persistent cough
  • enlarged prostate
  • lifting heavy items
  • smoking
  • physical exertion
  • being overweight
  • undescended testicles
  • cystic fibrosis
  • abdominal fluid


Are You at Risk of Developing a Hernia?

The risk of developing a hernia increases with age and occurs more commonly in men than in women. Other factors can increase your chance of developing a hernia.

If you recently had surgery on the abdomen, you have a higher risk of developing an incisional hernia. You’re more susceptible three to six months after the surgery, especially if you’re involved in strenuous activity, you’ve gained additional weight, or you become pregnant.

Those with a higher risk of an inguinal hernia include older adults, smokers, people with chronic constipation, males, people with a family history of inguinal hernias, pregnant women, and those who were born premature or had low birth weight.

The risk of a hiatal hernia is higher in people who are obese or are over the age of 50.

You have a higher risk of developing a hernia if your abdomen is under higher than usual pressure. You may be susceptible if you do a lot of heavy lifting, are obese, are pregnant, have a chronic cough, or have chronic constipation.

A hernia in the abdomen or groin can produce a noticeable lump or bulge. If you think you have a hernia, seek treatment at Peconic Bay Medical Center, one of the best medical centers in Suffolk County, NY.