Defining inguinal hernia

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:47 pm
Inguinal (ING-gwih-nal) hernias occur when a weakness in the abdominal wall allows internal organs such as the intestines to bulge out. They are more likely to affect men because of a natural internal weakness left from the path by which the testicles descend into the scrotum, just before birth. This path is called the inguinal canal. There are two types of inguinal hernias, direct and indirect. Direct hernias appear in the groin region, where the abdomen and thigh converge, An indirect hernia occurs in the scrotum, resulting from internal tissue that slides further down the inguinal canal. Inguinal hernias may arise from injury, muscle strain, a defect present since birth, or loss of tissue strength due to normal aging. Symptoms include pain as you strain to go to the bathroom, or when lifting something heavy. This may accompany a dull ache or pressure in the groin, nausea, or constipation. Even when symptoms are mild, hernias won't go away without treatment. Surgery is required to push the tissue back to its normal position. When the hernia can't be pushed back, this is a more dangerous condition, with a risk of the intestines being blocked or starved for blood, causing tissue death. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned, see a doctor immediately. For more information on inguinal hernias, consult a healthcare professional.

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