An inguinal hernia occurs when intestinal tissue or fat protrudes through a weak spot in the lower abdominal muscles, causing a bulge and discomfort in the groin. Many activities can increase pressure in the abdomen and aggravate the protruding tissue, worsening hernia symptoms. In this article, I will explain what actions commonly exacerbate an inguinal hernia and tips to avoid them.
Straining and Lifting
Any strenuous activity that causes you to strain or bear down forcefully can make an inguinal hernia more painful and pronounced. Lifting heavy objects, for instance, tenses the abdominal muscles, pushing more tissue through the hernia defect. Straining while having a bowel movement or urinating also aggravates the protrusion. Avoid lifting over 15-20 pounds and get treatment for constipation.
Coughing and Sneezing
When you cough, sneeze or laugh, it creates a sudden increase in intra-abdominal pressure. This can force abdominal contents through the hernia, enlarging it temporarily. People often instinctively brace their abdomen or bend over during coughing fits, which further exacerbates the protruding tissue. Using a pillow to splint the abdomen can help.
Bending and Twisting
Bending forward at the waist stresses the lower abdominal wall and potentially enlarges the hernia. Activities requiring forceful twisting of the torso, like swinging a golf club or tennis racquet, also tension the groin region. Modify activities to avoid repetitive or deep twisting and bending motions.
Vigorous exercise and contact sports like football, soccer, basketball, and hockey can aggravate an inguinal hernia. The jarring impact and abrupt direction changes put strain on the abdominal muscles. Switch to low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, or cycling if you have a hernia. Avoid sudden pivots and stops/starts.
Overeating and gulping down food can prompt an inguinal hernia to expand. When the digestive system is very full, it increases abdominal pressure. Eat smaller, more frequent meals in a relaxed manner. Making dietary changes to prevent constipation can also help avoid exacerbating a hernia.
Standing and Sitting Too Long
Prolonged standing or sitting applies chronic pressure on the groin region, allowing gravity to pull internal tissues down through the defect. Take regular breaks to lay down or recline when possible. Avoid activities that require standing still for over 30 minutes at a time.
Summary of What Can Aggravate an Inguinal Hernia:
– Lifting heavy objects or straining
– Forceful coughing, sneezing or laughing
– Bending forward repeatedly at the waist
– Twisting torso and swinging motions during sports
– High-impact exercise and contact sports
– Overeating large, heavy meals
– Prolonged standing or sitting without breaks
Making sensible activity modifications and minimizing abdominal strain can help manage an inguinal hernia. But ultimately, surgical repair offers the only way to permanently strengthen the abdominal wall and prevent exacerbations. Please let me know if you have any other questions!
Dr. Rajarshi Mitra is a patient-centered, highly-rated Specialist Laparoscopic Surgeon & Proctologist in Abu Dhabi, offering Advanced Laparoscopic Surgery, Minimally Invasive Proctology & Lasers in Proctology. He is MBBS; MS (Surgery); FIAGES; FICS (USA); Dip. Lap (France); and Dip. Hernia (APHS) with 18 years of extensive experience in Laparoscopic Surgery, Minimally Invasive Proctology and Fellowship training in Colorectal and Bariatric Surgery.