When we think hernia, we tend to think of cavernous tears in the abdominal wall and large bulbous protrusions, all clear signs of a hernia. While this is true in some cases, many people suffer from a silent hernia and are completely unaware that they have one. Hernias don’t necessarily protrude and they aren’t always obvious.
This is particularly true for women who’ve been through childbirth.
A hernia can often present with symptoms that on the surface, appear to be totally unrelated and it’s easy to misdiagnose these as heartburn, tummy trouble, or a host of other things. You shouldn’t self-diagnose, particularly if you have persistent symptoms. Your doctor is best placed to correctly assess your health.
Symptoms that persist over time and are accompanied by pain, even mild, are your body’s way of telling you somethings up. Don’t ignore them.
Women are particularly prone to developing umbilical hernias near the belly button and smaller, less noticeable hernias (little, to no bulge) which can be misdiagnosed as fibroids, ovarian cysts, or endometriosis based on the region of pain. Getting a cramp or painful sensation in your belly when you have a good laugh? That could very well be an umbilical hernia.
The symptoms listed below are commonly associated with other conditions but can be an indicator of a silent hernia and if you suffer continuously from one or more of these symptoms consider chatting to your doctor.
Constipation can mean there is a blockage or constriction in the large intestine that is interfering with digestion. This symptom is often accompanied by a difficulty to pass gas, and you’ll feel bloated.
This is probably the hardest symptom to associate with a hernia as there is a list of conditions as long as your arm that could potentially cause heartburn. A hiatal hernia in the upper abdomen can cause a feeling like heartburn along with chest pain. It allows stomach acid to leak into the esophagus causing inflammation which mimics heartburn.
The ‘heartburn’ associated with a hiatal hernia will be particularly pronounced when you are lying down on a flat surface. Activity in this position (I won’t elaborate) can also drastically aggravate symptoms. Elevating the head of your bead slightly or propping yourself up with pillows while you sleep will help reduce acid reflux.
An inguinal hernia can lead to a person feeling like they had an enormous meal when in fact they did not. This is a very common type of hernia and can also make you feel bloated. It is often accompanied by pain in the groin and lower abdomen.
Inguinal hernias are also fairly common in women and often overlooked. They are notoriously difficult to diagnose because sonograms and CT scans don’t always pick them up. These can present with chronic lower abdominal pain as a distinctive symptom.
Nausea And Vomiting
These aren’t symptoms we would normally associate with a hernia, but an upset stomach can indicate a serious condition known as an incarcerated hernia. In these cases, the hernia doesn’t return in place by a gentle push and can require immediate medical attention. If you’ve ever had appendicitis the feeling and the pain associated are not dissimilar.
Abdominal pain that leads to nausea and vomiting should be considered a medical emergency and you should seek immediate medical assistance.
A fever in conjunction with a hernia is a sign that you need medical assistance. The fever can be indicative of a “strangulated” hernia which is not getting enough blood flow and you will require immediate medical assistance. If you develop a fever that is accompanied by any of the other symptoms listed here, then that fever may be related to a hernia.
Pain Induced by Movement
If you experience pain when you lift heavy objects, or a feeling of pressure in your abdomen when you bend over this could be a silent indicator of a hernia. Other common signs to be aware of are pain when you cough and tightness in the groin or abdomen.
Pain In your Pelvic Area
As they rarely cause a noticeable bulge, some hernias in women are misdiagnosed as fibroids, ovarian cysts, or endometriosis, based on the region of pain you are experiencing. Occasionally, these small but very painful hernias may cause pain in your legs or back. An MRI is usually required to correctly identify the source of the pain.
For women, umbilical hernias near the belly button are an issue and you are prone to these, particularly after childbirth. Labor can also result in a hernia, particularly when the birth weight is high. If you experience pain every time you have a good laugh, that can be a hidden sign of this type of hernia.
Occasionally a feeling of muscle fatigue and weakness in the upper leg and groin can be a sign of a hernia. Consider the other symptoms mentioned above if you are experiencing this and speak to your healthcare provider.