Hernia - What will happen to me?
BMJ Group Medical Reference
Most people have surgery to repair their hernia. There isn't much research to say what will happen if you don't.
Doctors usually suggest that people with a hernia have an operation to repair it. Surgery can get rid of the bulge in your groin and prevent problems such as a strangulated hernia. But if your hernia is small and you don't have any other symptoms (like a sore groin), you probably don't need to have it repaired straight away. You can wait until it's convenient.
Children tend to have hernias fixed straight away. This is because their hernias are more likely to become strangulated.
If you're older and have a serious illness, such as heart or breathing problems, talk to your doctor about whether you should have your hernia repaired. The research isn't clear on what's the best thing to do.
If you choose to leave your hernia, the following might happen.
It might get bigger and become more painful and uncomfortable. It could stop you doing things like working, carrying anything heavy, exercising, or having sex.
A bit of your bowel can get squeezed by the opening in the muscle that it has slipped through. The wall of the bowel could split, causing fluid to leak into your abdomen. This can cause a dangerous condition called peritonitis.
The bowel can get trapped by the opening it has slipped through. This can cut off the blood supply to the bowel. If blood stops flowing to this part of the bowel, it can die. This is called a strangulated hernia. It can be life-threatening, and you'll need to have an operation straight away. If part of your bowel has died, the surgeon will cut out the dead bowel and join the two healthy ends together.
There isn't much research on how likely these problems are. We do know that, each year, about 5 in 100 people with their first hernia get life-threatening problems and need emergency surgery.
You have a higher risk of serious problems with your hernia if:
You're older. One study found that people aged around 50 had a higher risk of complications than teenagers and people in their early 20s
You have another illness, such as heart disease, at the same time.
You get heart disease when your heart isn't able to pump blood as well as it should. This can happen for a variety of reasons.
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