An inguinal hernia occurs when tissue pushes through a weak spot in the groin muscle says WebMD. This causes a bulge in the groin or scrotum. Mayo Clinic adds the resulting bulge can be painful especially when coughing, bending over or lifting heavy objects.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports inguinal hernia is more common in men than women. About five out of 100 children have inguinal hernias.
What causes this? The Mayo Clinic says in many people -- including newborns and children -- abdominal wall weakness occurs at birth when the abdominal lining doesn't properly close.
NIH says other causes are anything that increases pressure on the abdominal wall tissue and muscles. This includes chronic constipation, chronic coughing, straining to have bowel movements or urinate, enlarged prostate, extra weight, heavy lifting, poor nutrition, pregnancy, smoking, overexertion and undescended testicles.
Risk factors for an inguinal hernia include medical conditions like cystic fibrosis, occupations that require long periods of standing or heavy physical labor, premature birth, and family or personal history of inguinal hernia.
NIH says often there are no symptoms. However, sometimes there may be discomfort or pain which worsens when standing, straining, or lifting heavy objects.
The main symptom of an inguinal hernia, says WebMD, is a bulge in the groin or scrotum. It often feels like a round lump and may form over a period of weeks or months. Or it may appear all of a sudden after lifting heavy objects, coughing, bending, straining, or laughing. It also may cause swelling and a feeling of heaviness, tugging, or burning in the hernia area. Symptoms may improve when lying down.
Surgery is the only way to treat a hernia. They don’t heal on their own. NIH says doctors may suggest hernia repair surgery when there is pain or the hernia is bothersome during everyday activities. If that’s not the case, surgery may not be needed.
WebMD adds most people have hernia repair surgery, even without symptoms. This is because, according to NIH, a hernia may get bigger and strangulate.