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February 19, 2024

5 Hernia Symptoms You May Not Expect

Hernias are a common medical condition characterized by the protrusion of an organ or tissue through a weakened spot in the surrounding muscle or connective tissue. While many people are familiar with the typical symptoms of hernias, such as a visible bulge or discomfort, there are several less-expected symptoms that you may not be aware of. 

In this article, we'll explore five hernia symptoms that you may not expect, shedding light on these lesser-known manifestations and their importance in early detection and treatment. 

Common Symptoms of Hernias

When it comes to hernias, recognizing the symptoms early on is crucial for prompt diagnosis and treatment. The most common symptoms of hernias typically include a visible bulge or lump in the affected area, often accompanied by discomfort or pain. This bulge may become more noticeable when you're standing, coughing, or straining during activities like lifting heavy objects.

Many people describe the sensation of a hernia as a feeling of pressure or heaviness in the abdomen or groin area. This discomfort can vary from mild to severe, depending on the size and location of the hernia. It's essential to pay attention to any changes in your body and seek medical attention if you experience persistent discomfort or pain.

Digestive issues can also be associated with hernias. Some individuals may experience symptoms such as acid reflux, indigestion, or difficulty swallowing. This occurs because the herniated tissue can put pressure on the digestive tract, leading to symptoms similar to those of gastrointestinal disorders.

Nausea and vomiting may occur in some cases, especially if the hernia becomes obstructed or strangulated. These symptoms indicate a more severe complication requiring immediate medical attention. Similarly, difficulty with bowel movements, such as constipation or changes in stool consistency, can indicate complications associated with certain types of hernias.

Urinary symptoms, including frequent urination or difficulty emptying the bladder completely, can also occur with hernias, particularly those affecting the pelvic area. It's essential to distinguish these symptoms from those of other urinary tract conditions and seek proper evaluation from a healthcare professional.

Changes in the appearance or size of the abdomen may be noticeable in some individuals with hernias, particularly if the hernia becomes more prominent over time. This may be accompanied by a noticeable increase in abdominal girth or asymmetry. These changes can be concerning and should prompt further evaluation by a healthcare provider.

5 Less Expected Hernia Symptoms

While some hernia symptoms are more commonly recognized, there are also less expected symptoms that you should be aware of. These symptoms may not immediately point to a hernia, but they could indicate underlying issues that need attention. Here are some less-expected hernia symptoms to watch out for:

Chronic Cough and Hernias:

Chronic coughing, often associated with conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or smoking, can exert significant strain on the abdominal wall. This strain increases intra-abdominal pressure, which can contribute to the development or exacerbation of hernias. Individuals with a history of smoking, COPD, or other respiratory conditions are at higher risk. Moreover, those engaged in occupations or activities that involve repetitive coughing, such as heavy lifting or certain sports, may also be more susceptible to hernias. It's important to note that while coughing can be a risk factor for hernias, not all chronic coughs lead to hernias, and other factors, such as genetic predisposition and weak abdominal muscles, may also play a role.

Pain in the Groin or Hip:

Pain in the groin or hip area can be a less expected symptom of hernias, particularly inguinal or femoral hernias. These types of hernias occur when abdominal contents protrude through weak spots in the groin or upper thigh area. Risk factors for inguinal hernias include male gender, advancing age, chronic coughing, obesity, and strenuous physical activity. Femoral hernias, although less common, are more prevalent in women, especially those who have had multiple pregnancies or are obese. It's important to differentiate hernia-related groin or hip pain from other musculoskeletal conditions to ensure appropriate management.

Testicular Pain or Discomfort:

Testicular pain or discomfort may occur as a result of referred pain from hernias affecting the inguinal region. Inguinal hernias in men are more common due to the presence of a natural weakness in the inguinal canal, which allows structures like the spermatic cord to protrude. Risk factors for inguinal hernias in men include a family history of hernias, congenital defects in the abdominal wall, chronic constipation, and heavy lifting. While not all cases of testicular pain are related to hernias, it's essential for men experiencing persistent discomfort in the testicles to undergo a thorough medical evaluation to rule out underlying hernia or other potential causes.

Unexplained Fatigue:

Chronic fatigue can result from the continuous discomfort and disturbed sleep patterns associated with hernias, particularly larger ones. Risk factors for hernias contributing to fatigue include advanced age, obesity, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle. Additionally, certain occupations or activities requiring repetitive heavy lifting or straining may increase the risk of hernias and subsequent fatigue. Addressing hernia-related fatigue involves not only managing the hernia itself but also addressing contributing factors such as lifestyle modifications and proper ergonomics in work or daily activities.

Difficulty in Breathing:

Diaphragmatic hernias, though less common, can lead to difficulty breathing as they involve the protrusion of abdominal organs through the diaphragm into the chest cavity. Risk factors for diaphragmatic hernias include congenital defects in the diaphragm, trauma, obesity, and pregnancy. Symptoms may worsen with activities that increase intra-abdominal pressure, such as coughing, straining, or bending over. It's essential for individuals experiencing respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, to seek immediate medical attention, as diaphragmatic hernias can lead to serious complications if left untreated.

These less-expected hernia symptoms may not always be immediately recognized as related to hernias. However, it's crucial to be aware of them and consider the possibility of a hernia, especially if you're experiencing other concerning symptoms. Seeking medical evaluation and discussing your symptoms with a healthcare provider can help ensure proper diagnosis and treatment. Remember, early detection and management of hernias can prevent complications and improve outcomes.

Factors Contributing to Unusual Hernia Symptoms

Understanding the factors that contribute to unusual hernia symptoms can provide valuable insights into why certain individuals may experience atypical manifestations of this condition. While hernias typically present with common symptoms such as a visible bulge, discomfort, or pain, several factors can influence the development and expression of less-expected symptoms:

Size and Location of the Hernia:

The size and location of the hernia play a significant role in determining the range of symptoms experienced by an individual. Larger hernias may exert more pressure on surrounding tissues and organs, leading to a wider array of symptoms. Similarly, the location of the hernia within the abdominal wall or pelvic region can influence the type and severity of symptoms. For example, diaphragmatic hernias, which involve the protrusion of abdominal organs into the chest cavity, can cause respiratory symptoms such as difficulty breathing.

Individual Anatomy and Physiology:

Variations in an individual's anatomy and physiology can also contribute to the development and expression of unusual hernia symptoms. Factors such as the strength of the abdominal wall muscles, the presence of congenital defects, and underlying medical conditions can influence how hernias manifest. For instance, individuals with weakened abdominal muscles due to factors like aging, obesity, or previous surgeries may be more prone to hernias and experience more pronounced symptoms.

Coexisting Medical Conditions:

The presence of coexisting medical conditions can exacerbate hernia symptoms or lead to the manifestation of additional symptoms. For example, individuals with chronic respiratory conditions like COPD may experience worsened hernia symptoms due to frequent coughing, which increases intra-abdominal pressure. Similarly, conditions that affect bowel or bladder function, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or urinary tract infections (UTIs), can contribute to digestive or urinary symptoms in individuals with hernias.

Delayed Diagnosis and Treatment:

Delayed diagnosis and treatment of hernias can result in the progression of symptoms and the development of complications. Some individuals may ignore or dismiss early hernia symptoms, attributing them to other causes or simply hoping they will resolve on their own. However, delaying medical evaluation and treatment can allow hernias to worsen over time, leading to more severe symptoms and complications. Prompt diagnosis and management are essential for preventing the progression of hernias and minimizing associated symptoms.

How to Diagnose and Treat the Unusual Symptoms

Diagnosing and treating unusual hernia symptoms requires a comprehensive approach that considers the individual's medical history, symptoms, and physical examination findings. Here's what you need to know about the diagnosis and treatment of unusual hernia symptoms:


To diagnose unusual hernia symptoms, your healthcare provider will typically begin with a thorough medical history and physical examination. They will ask about your symptoms, medical history, and any risk factors for hernias. During the physical examination, your healthcare provider may look for visible bulges or lumps in the affected area and assess for tenderness or discomfort. Additional diagnostic tests may be ordered to confirm the presence of a hernia or evaluate its size and location. These tests may include:

  • Imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI to visualize the hernia and surrounding structures.
  • Endoscopy, in cases where a hiatal hernia is suspected, to examine the esophagus and stomach.
  • X-rays or barium swallow studies, particularly for hiatal hernias, to assess for abnormalities in the upper gastrointestinal tract.


The treatment approach for unusual hernia symptoms depends on various factors, including the type and severity of the hernia, the presence of complications, and the individual's overall health. Treatment options may include:

  • Lifestyle modifications: Making changes such as avoiding heavy lifting, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding activities that exacerbate symptoms can help manage hernias and reduce discomfort.
  • Medications: Over-the-counter or prescription medications may be recommended to alleviate symptoms such as acid reflux, indigestion, or pain associated with hernias.
  • Physical therapy: For certain types of hernias, physical therapy exercises may help strengthen the abdominal muscles and provide symptomatic relief.
  • Surgical intervention: In cases where conservative measures fail to provide adequate relief or if complications such as strangulation occur, surgical repair of the hernia may be necessary. Surgical options may include traditional open surgery or minimally invasive techniques such as laparoscopic or robotic-assisted surgery.


It's essential to discuss the risks, benefits, and potential outcomes of treatment options with your healthcare provider to make an informed decision. Factors such as your age, overall health, and preferences will also influence the choice of treatment. Additionally, regular follow-up appointments may be necessary to monitor the hernia and assess for any changes or complications.


While not all hernias can be prevented, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing them or experiencing complications:

  • Maintain a healthy weight and avoid obesity, as excess weight can increase intra-abdominal pressure and strain on the abdominal muscles.
  • Practice proper lifting techniques to minimize the risk of hernias, such as bending at the knees and using your legs instead of your back when lifting heavy objects.
  • Quit smoking, as smoking can weaken the abdominal muscles and increase the risk of hernias.
  • Manage underlying medical conditions such as chronic cough, constipation, or respiratory conditions to reduce the strain on the abdominal wall.

In conclusion, being aware of the less expected symptoms of hernias is crucial for early detection and prompt treatment. Whether it's chronic cough, unexplained fatigue, or pain in unexpected areas like the groin or hip, recognizing these signs can lead to timely intervention and better outcomes. If you're experiencing any concerning symptoms or suspect you may have a hernia, don't hesitate to consult with a healthcare provider for proper evaluation and guidance.

At Hernia Innovations, we understand the importance of accurate diagnosis and effective treatment for hernias. With our state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and innovative treatment approaches, we offer comprehensive care tailored to your individual needs. Our team of experienced healthcare professionals is dedicated to providing you with the highest quality care and support throughout your hernia journey. Take the first step towards better hernia management today by scheduling a consultation with Hernia Innovations. Your health and well-being are our top priorities.