Hernia – Types, Symptoms & Treatments | MedStar Health

Hernias occur when a weak abdominal wall allows a piece of the intestine or other tissue to slip through, often creating a noticeable lump. They either develop slowly over months or years or develop very suddenly.

Often, they occur after overexertion, such as lifting heavy objects or playing sports, but they also can develop after a simple cough or sneeze. Some areas of the body, such as the groin, are prone to hernias because they are naturally weak.

Types and symptoms

They often are named by where they are located.

  • Inguinal hernias occur in the groin area and are most common in men
  • Femoral hernias are located at the top of the thigh and most often develop in women as a result of pregnancy and childbirth
  • Umbilical hernias occur around the bellybutton and can occur in anyone, even infants and children
  • Incisional hernias occur at the site of a previous surgery
  • Ventral hernias develop in the upper abdomen
  • Stoma hernias can develop after a colostomy or similar surgery
  • Strangulated hernias refer to those in which a piece of intestine becomes trapped. The resulting intestinal blockage can be life-threatening and requires immediate treatment

Symptoms of a hernia may include:

  • Pain or discomfort, worsening while coughing or having a bowel movement
  • Swelling or bulging in the abdominal area


Hernia surgery is critical for repairing the opening or weakness in the abdominal wall. If the opening is not repaired, tissues can become entrapped, weakening blood supply to those areas.

Depending on the location of your hernia, your surgeon will determine the most effective hernia repair surgery for you.

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Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our hernia specialists.