Inguinal hernia – Symptoms, causes and risk factors

inguinal hernia causes

This condition happens when the tissue (such as, part of the intestines) protrudes through a weak spot in the abdominal muscles. This resulting bulge can be painful, especially when you lift a heavy object, bend over or when you cough. This condition is not necessarily dangerous. The inguinal hernia does not improve on its own and it can lead to life – threatening complications. The inguinal hernia which is painful or enlarging often is recommended to be fixed by surgery. It is common procedure to be inguinal hernia repair.

Inguinal hernia Symptoms

Here are the signs and symptoms of inguinal hernia:

  • Weakness or pressure in your groin
  • A heavy or dragging sensation in your groin
  • Pain or discomfort in your groin, especially when bending over, coughing or lifting
  • A burning or aching sensation at the bulge
  • There can be a lump in the area on some side of the public bone, which becomes more obvious when you are upright, especially if you cough or strain
  • There are rare cases where the pain and swelling around the testicles when protruding intestine descends into the scrotum

When you are lying down, then you should be able to gently push the hernia back into your abdomen. If you cannot do this, then you should apply an ice pack to the area to reduce the swelling enough so the hernia slides in easily. Also when you are lying with your pelvis higher than your head, then it can help you.

inguinal hernia surgery

Incarcerated hernia

If you cannot push the hernia in, then the contents of the hernia can be incarcerated (trapped) in the abdominal wall. This type of hernia can become strangulated which cuts off the blood flow to the tissue which is trapped. If the strangulated hernia is not treated, then it could be life – threatening. Here are the signs and symptoms of strangulated hernia:

  • Inability to move your bowels or pass gas
  • A hernia bulge that turns red, purple or dark
  • Sudden pain that quickly intensifies
  • Fever
  • Nausea, vomiting or both

If you have any of the mentioned signs and symptoms, then you should call your doctor as soon as possible.

Inguinal hernia Signs and symptoms in children

The inguinal hernia in newborns and children is caused by a weakness in the abdominal wall which is present at birth. There are some cases when the inguinal hernia can be visible only when the infant is crying, straining during a bowel movement or coughing. Your child can have less appetite than usual or he or she may be irritable. In the older children, the inguinal hernia is likely to be more apparent when the child stands for a long period, strains during a bowel movements or coughs.


There are some cases when the inguinal hernia has no apparent cause. Other inguinal hernia can happen as a result of:

  • Chronic coughing or sneezing
  • Pregnancy
  • Strenuous activity
  • Straining during bowel movements or urination
  • There can be a combination of increased pressure within the abdomen and a pre – existing weak spot in the abdominal wall
  • You have a pre – existing weak spot in the abdominal wall
  • Increased pressure within the abdomen

There are many cases when the abdominal wall weakness which leads to an inguinal hernia happens at birth when the peritoneum (abdominal lining) does not close properly. There are other inguinal hernias which develop later in the life when the muscles deteriorate or weaken due to coughing that accompanies smoking, strenuous physical activity and aging. The weakness happens in the abdominal wall later in the life, especially after an abdominal surgery or an injury.

Inguinal hernia Risk factors

Here are some factors which are contributing to the development of inguinal hernia:

  • Previous inguinal hernia or hernia repair: If you had inguinal hernia in your childhood, then you have increased risk of developing another inguinal hernia.
  • Premature birth and low birth weight
  • Pregnancy: It is known fact that being pregnant can weaken the abdominal muscles and cause increased pressure inside the abdomen.
  • Chronic constipation: It is known that the constipation is causing straining during the bowel movements.
  • Chronic cough: This cough can be caused by smoking.
  • Being white
  • Being older: We know that our muscles weaken as we are aging.
  • Being male: It is known fact that men have 8 times more chances to develop inguinal hernia compared to women.
  • Family history


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.