A hernia is a bulge caused by an internal part of the body, such as the large intestine, as it is pushed through a weakness in the muscle or tissue wall.

The signs and symptoms of hernia are:

The main symptom of a hernia is an ache or bulge in the abdomen or under the skin around a stoma. The bulge may not always be apparent, appearing when the person coughs, sneezes, or strains the abdominal muscles.

Smoking may increase a person's chances of having a hernia, and overweight individuals are more prone to hernias. Anything that increases the pressure inside the abdomen such as lifting heavy objects or straining muscles can also increase the risk. You can lower your risk of developing a hernia by:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight for your height or losing weight if necessary
  • Not smoking
  • Eating a well-balanced diet
  • Strengthening your abdominal muscles through regular, moderate exercise such as walking, yoga, or stretching
  • Avoiding constipation
  • Leaning how to safely lift heavy objects so that the arm and leg muscles take the strain.

Hernias are often treated surgically to repair the tissue wall. Generally, the operation is performed through one or more incisions made in the abdomen. This is called minimally invasive or laparoscopic surgery.

There are specially designed garments for people with hernias; for these, the size and shape must be correct, so ask your doctor and specialists about this.

If a hernia is very small and does not cause problems for the person, it may not require treatment, although you may be advised to make certain lifestyle changes to help your condition.