Caused by a combination of muscle weakness and strain, a hernia occurs when fat or intestine from inside your abdomen bulges through the muscles and tissues that keep them in place.
You may have one of several kinds of hernias:
- An inguinal hernia, which happens when a portion of your intestines pushes through the muscles and tissue of your abdominal wall.
- A hiatal hernia, which occurs when part of your stomach bulge into your chest cavity.
- An incisional hernia, which usually happens after abdominal surgery, when your intestines push through the incision site from the operation.
Sometimes you can control the symptoms of a hernia, but that doesn’t mean the hernia goes away. Regardless of which type of hernia you have, you might need surgery to correct it. If you do get hernia surgery, you should make some lifestyle changes to prevent another hernia in the future.
1. Make healthy diet changes
While dietary changes can’t necessarily prevent a hernia, they can help you keep your body weight in a healthy range. Excess body weight, especially when gained in a short period of time, can create pressure around your hernia site and increase your risk of a recurring hernia.
Additionally, try to eat several smaller meals throughout the day rather than just a few large meals. Eating large amounts of food in one sitting can put pressure on the hernia site. Also try to avoid reflux-causing foods, such as citrus fruits and carbonated drinks, as acid reflux may be a sign of a hernia.
2. Start a light exercise regimen
Regular physical activity is another surefire way to stay at a healthy weight, reducing your risk of any unnecessary pressure at the hernia site. The right kinds of exercise can also strengthen the muscles around your hernia, which reduces your risk of a number-one hernia cause: weak muscles.
Just make sure to work with a personal trainer, physical therapist, or other exercise professional to make sure you’re exercising with proper form.
3. Avoid heavy or strenuous lifting
While we encourage you to exercise regularly, you should avoid any activities that place unnecessary strain on your muscles, especially your abdomen. This means you should avoid heavy lifting or other forms of exercise that require straining across the hernia repair, especially if you are feeling discomfort. If you’re confused about which exercises you should and shouldn’t do, give Dr. Candela and Dr. Schreier a call.
4. Stop smoking
Smoking is a major risk factor of hernia and recurring hernia because many people who smoke experience “smoker’s cough,” a repetitive and recurrent cough that can cause your organs to push through the tissue holding them in place.
5. Make a habit of visiting your doctor
After hernia surgery — or any surgery, for that matter — you may need to make changes to your typical healthcare regimen. For at least the first year after surgery, or your primary care physician periodically.
You should also immediately report any symptoms that may relate to your hernia surgery, such as acid reflux, pain or discomfort near the surgery site, chest pain, abdominal weakness, or nausea.
If you have any questions about recovery after hernia surgery, or if you think you might have a hernia, call Candela & Schreier Medical Corporation right away or request an appointment online at our West Hills, CA or Thousand Oaks, CA locations.