A hernia occurs when one of your organs push through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. It can impact the groin, scrotum, abdomen or upper thigh.

Most people with hernias don’t typically experience any major symptoms, but some may have discomfort or pain. The most common complaint is a bump that is sore and growing.

Sometimes, a hernia can occur with heavy lifting or persistent coughing. Or, you could have a birth defect that causes symptoms later in life.

Each year, about a half million men have to undergo some type of hernia surgery.

Types of Hernias

  • Inguinal hernia is a bulge in the groin or scrotum. It’s the most common.
  • Hiatal hernia occurs when part of your upper stomach protrudes through your diaphragm into your chest. This condition is most common in men over the age of 50.
  • Incisional hernia typically occurs after you’ve had abdominal surgery. Your intestines may push through the incision scar or surrounding tissue.
  • Femoral hernia is a bulge in the upper thigh, just below the groin.

You should contact your Bellin Health physician immediately if you notice one of those bulges, and especially if you’re experiencing nausea, vomiting or the inability to have bowel movements or pass gas. Those are signs of a more serious situation that requires surgery.

What Causes a Hernia?

The National Institutes of Health details several things that can lead to a hernia:

  • Constantly straining to have a bowel movement
  • Chronic cough
  • Extra weight and/or poor nutrition
  • Heavy lifting
  • Overexertion
  • Smoking
  • Family history of hernias
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Undescended testicles
  • Peritoneal dialysis
  • Fluid in the abdomen

Treatment Options

Your Bellin Health doctor will diagnose a hernia by performing a physical examination. He or she may feel for a bulge that gets larger when you stand, cough, or strain. In the case of hiatal hernias, your doctor may take X-rays or perform an endoscopy.Depending on the size of your hernia and your symptoms, you may not need treatment. Your doctor may simply monitor it for possible complications. In some cases, however, surgery may be necessary.


  • Eat small, balanced meals
  • Don’t smoke
  • See your doctor for regular checkups, and especially when you’re sick to avoid developing a persistent cough
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Avoid straining during bowel movements
  • Don’t bend over to lift heavy objects. Lift with your legs. Maintain proper form at the gym.

Call a Bellin Health Primary Care Physician

Need help? Get the guidance you need from a Bellin primary care physician.

Call Bellin Health On-Call 24/7 at (920) 445-7373 for more information and to make an appointment.