A hernia occurs when a portion of tissue in your body bulges into or penetrates a weakened muscle area. Theoretically, hernias can happen anywhere in your body, but most occur in the abdomen between the rib cage and the groin.
There are several types of hernias, some are described below:
- Hiatus or diaphragmatic hernias occur when a piece of your stomach protrudes through the diaphragm (the muscle that separates the chest region from the abdominal area) via the opening through which the esophagus (food tube) passes into the stomach. Hernias may also occur in infancy because of a weakness in the abdominal wall. They occur more frequently in premature babies.
- Inguinal or groin hernias occur when part of the abdominal contents (usually part of the intestine or a piece of bowel) protrudes into the groin area. This is the most common type, accounting for around 70% of all hernias. Men are 8 times as likely as women to get them. They often occur after age 50 (on one side of the groin or both). The hernia operation is one of the most common surgery procedures. Inguinal hernia occurs in up to 5% of all newborns and 9% to 11% of premature babies.
- Umbilical hernias are similar to inguinal hernias but are found in the area of the umbilicus (the navel or belly button area). This occurs most commonly in infants and children. The belly button may bulge outwards, especially when they are crying.
- Incisional hernias occur when a piece of intestine protrudes through a weakness in the abdominal wall in an area where surgery has been performed.
- Femoral hernias occur when a piece of intestine protrudes though the passage that is normally used by large blood vessels as they pass between the abdomen and leg.
- Paraesophageal hernias are uncommon, but can be life threatening because in some cases they can cause the entire stomach to slip into the chest cavity.