A hernia occurs when an internal part of the body pushes through a weakness in the muscle or surrounding tissue wall.
A hernia usually develops between your chest and hips. In many cases, it causes no or very few symptoms, although you may notice a swelling or lump in your tummy (abdomen) or groin.
The lump can often be pushed back in or disappears when you lie down. Coughing or straining may make the lump appear.
Some of the more common types of hernia are described below.
Inguinal hernias occur when fatty tissue or a part of your bowel pokes through into your groin at the top of your inner thigh.
This is the most common type of hernia and it mainly affects men. It's often associated with ageing and repeated strain on the abdomen.
Femoral hernias also occur when fatty tissue or a part of your bowel pokes through into your groin at the top of your inner thigh. They're much less common than inguinal hernias and tend to affect more women than men.
Like inguinal hernias, femoral hernias are also associated with ageing and repeated strain on the abdomen.
Umbilical hernias occur when fatty tissue or a part of your bowel pokes through your abdomen near your belly button (navel).
This type of hernia can occur in babies if the opening in the abdomen through which the umbilical cord passes doesn't seal properly after birth. Adults can also be affected, possibly as a result of repeated strain on the abdomen.
Other types of hernia that can affect the abdomen include:
See your GP if you think you have a hernia. They may refer you to hospital for surgical treatment, if necessary.
You should go the accident and emergency department of your nearest hospital immediately if you have a hernia and you develop any of the following symptoms:
These symptoms could mean that either:
A strangulated hernia and obstructed bowel are medical emergencies and need to be treated as soon as possible.