Hernias affect more than five million people. They can occur in both men and women of all ages, as well as in children. A hernia occurs when part of an internal organ bulges through a weak area of muscle.
You can’t always prevent the muscle weakness that allows a hernia to occur. However, you can reduce the amount of strain you place on your body. The following tips can help you avoid a hernia or keep an existing hernia from getting worse:
- Stop smoking. If you smoke, quit. Chronic coughing from smoking increases your risk of developing a hernia. It can also cause one to recur. Plan to Quit.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can raise your risk of developing a hernia. If you are overweight, try to lose some weight to ease the pressure on your abdominal muscles. Do regular, gentle exercises to tone and strengthen your abdominal muscles. Take a Free Health Assessment.
- Stay regular. Avoid constipation and straining during bowel movements and urination. Straining causes increased pressure inside your abdomen giving you a greater risk of a hernia occurring or recurring.
- Eat a healthy diet. Constipation can significantly increase your risk of hernia. A diet high in fiber will help your bowel movements. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains – and make sure to drink plenty of fluids.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects. If you can’t avoid this, use good body mechanics when lifting heavy objects. Lift with your legs, not with your back – and do not bend at your waist (which puts excessive pressure on your abdomen). Make sure your body weight is centered over your feet when you start your lift.
Hernias don’t go away and can become life threatening. If you notice a bulge or swelling in your groin, abdomen, scrotum or thigh, see your doctor as soon as possible.