A hernia develops when the thin outer layers of the abdominal wall weaken, bulge, or tear. A break in this wall allows the abdominal tissues to bulge through. While any part of the abdominal wall can develop a hernia, the most common sites are the groin (known as an inguinal hernia) and the navel (known as an umbilical hernia). A hernia can also develop in the area between the groin and the leg (known as a femoral hernia), or in an old incision (known as an incisional hernia).
Symptoms vary depending on location and severity, but may include:
- A visible lump or swollen area that disappears when you’re lying down, or enlarges when you cough, strain, or stand up
- A heavy, uncomfortable feeling in the gut, particularly when bending over
- Pain or aching, particularly on exertion (such as lifting or carrying heavy objects)
- Digestive upsets, such as constipation