Hernias are more common in men and also become more common with age.
Muscles become weaker with age allowing a hernia to develop. Hernias can occur at any age and there may be a genetic reason why some individuals might be prone to developing one, particularly at a young age.
Sometimes a hernia can appear suddenly and may be caused by a period of excessive straining such as with heavy lifting, straining to go the toilet i.e. constipation or after prolonged coughing.
The three most common areas where hernias develop are:
- Groin- inguinal hernias and femoral hernias
- Belly button- umbilical hernias
- Previous operation site- incisional hernia
You cannot prevent the weakness in the abdominal wall that leads to you getting a hernia but not smoking, avoiding constipation and maintaining a healthy weight should reduce the risk.
Smoking can cause coughing, which can put pressure on your abdomen and lead to a hernia or worsen symptoms if you already have one.
Constipation can lead to straining and increases pressure on the abdominal wall. You can avoid constipation by maintaining a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and fibre as well drinking plenty of fluids.
Obesity places the abdominal wall under constant pressure from the excessive body fat. Losing weight will reduce the risk of developing a hernia but if you already have a hernia and need an operation having a healthy weight will certainly reduce the risk of a hernia coming back after its been repaired.
Being physically active may help to prevent hernias, but other types of exercise can put too much pressure on your abdomen.
Beneficial exercises which strengthen the core may include:
- Sit-ups or crunches
- Light weights
- Aerobic activities, like running or cycling
Any type of exercise than involves very high levels of exertion can also increase your hernia risk. In particular activities to avoid include high impact activities such as jumping. Exercises such as squats or weight lifting can increase pressure on the abdominal wall. Fast or sudden twisting movements can also lead to muscle tearing.
If you already have a hernia or have had a hernia repaired previously you can prevent them from getting worse or coming back if you follow these 5 simple points:
- Avoid heavy lifting if possible.
- If you need to lift heavy objects, use your legs and not your back.
- Don’t get constipated or have to strain during a bowel movement.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Don’t smoke.
If you have a hernia or have recently had one repaired you should talk to your doctor, physiotherapist or personal trainer about any exercise that you’re considering.
10-15% of people who have had an abdominal operation will develop an incisional hernia.
If you have had a recent abdominal operation, following this advice can also help to prevent you developing an incisional hernia at the operation site.
What our Patients say
Find out what patients like you think of the service at The Birmingham Hernia Clinic.
I had an hernia operation around 10 years ago, following which I then began to develop a bulge the opposite side of my groin so I was aware that it was another hernia that would eventually need medical attention.”
I am recovering well after my hernia operation, and am very happy with the treatment that I received with Mr Simon Radley and would happily recommend him to anyone seeking similar treatment.”
"I would highly recommend Mr Radley, thanks to him I am flying to Italy to play in an International tournament- which with just over 3 months since my hernia operation is fantastic."
"I have a manual job moving 20 tonnes of beer every day which doesn't combine well with an umbilical hernia! Everything is now perfect after my hernia operation. Mr Radley did a great job, thank you."