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Hernia

A hernia is when an internal organ pushes through a weakened area in a muscular wall, causing it to protrude. They are common in areas such as the abdomen, hips, and chest. There are various types of hernias, including inguinal, epigastric, incisional, hiatal, and umbilical hernias, which are frequently found in Singaporeans.

  1. Inguinal hernia – An inguinal hernia happens when an internal organ protrudes through a weakened area in the muscular wall, resulting in a bulge.
  2. Epigastric hernia – An epigastric hernia occurs when a portion of the intestine protrudes through a weak spot in the stomach or abdominal muscles, causing a bulge or lump in the affected area.
  3. Incisional hernia – An incisional hernia occurs when a surgical wound, typically from an abdominal surgery, does not heal properly and leads to a weakness or hole in the abdominal wall. This can cause tissues, such as the intestine or organ, to protrude through the weakened area and result in a hernia.
  4. Hiatal hernia – An hiatal hernia occurs when a portion of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm and into the chest cavity.
  5. Umbilical hernia – An umbilical hernia occurs when a section of the intestine protrudes through a weak spot or a gap in the abdominal muscles around the navel or belly button, causing a bulge or swelling.

Hernias can affect both children and adults in Singapore, caused by weakened muscles present since birth or weakened due to trauma, pregnancy, or obesity. The increased pressure can create a gap and cause an organ to bulge out through the muscular wall, which may disappear or be pushed back in certain positions. However, hernias should be treated immediately as they can be life-threatening. Hiatal hernias, which occur internally, do not show external signs. Possible causes of hernias include repeated strain on abdominal muscles, age-related muscle weakening, trauma, and heavy smoking.

Hernias are a common condition in Singapore, and older adults and males have a higher risk of developing them. Children as young as 0 to 5 years old can also have hernias. Smoking can weaken the abdominal wall and increase the risk of hernias, as well as make surgery and healing more difficult. It is important to be aware of any symptoms and seek medical attention promptly to prevent complications.

Hernias can be treated with open or laparoscopic surgery, both of which aim to repair the abdominal wall and place the organ back into its correct position. Open surgery involves making a cut in the affected area and using stitches or synthetic mesh to strengthen the abdominal wall. Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally-invasive surgery that uses a laparoscope to access the area through a small incision at the belly button. This procedure is less painful and has a shorter recovery time compared to open surgery.

Hernias cannot be treated with medications alone and may lead to complications if left untreated. Additionally, hernias can cause discomfort and limit physical activities, such as lifting heavy objects, exercising, and traveling. Surgical intervention is often necessary to repair the hernia and prevent further complications.