What are the Signs & Symptoms?
Most hernias show no symptoms except for a small lump that can be pushed back inside, but may appear again when strain (like coughing) is applied. They may be painless, but some may feel an ache or discomfort, which may intensify with activities like lifting or bending. The bulging hernia itself does not cause pain, but the internal organs pressing against the abdominal wall can result in discomfort.
Over time, the lump may grow, become sore, and even get strangulated (trapped), a condition where the blood supply is blocked to the area requiring immediate medical attention. Entrapment of a hernia may lead to swelling, skin discolouration (blue or red), vomiting, pain, urination problems and bowel obstruction. A strangulated hernia may further lead to complications including gangrene (death of tissue) or peritonitis (inflammation of the abdominal inner wall). Strangulated inguinal hernias may cause vomiting and fever in children.
Symptoms caused by a hiatal hernia, such as discomfort and pain, may be due to the reflux (back flow) of bile or stomach acid into the oesophagus. Common symptoms due to a hiatal hernia include sharp chest pains, heartburn, choking, shortness of breath and cough during the night.