Do you suspect you have a hernia? Over 5 million people are diagnosed with a hernia annually, but only 14% of those people seek treatment. However, if a hernia is left untreated, it can cause a variety of complications, so it is essential to know your options and take action.

Many people do not realize they have a hernia, or it can go undiagnosed for many years. However, there are some signs that can indicate you have one. 

This guide answers common questions, such as can a hernia causes shortness of breath. Read on for everything you need to know about hernias so you can manage this condition and return to your optimum quality of life. 

What Is a Hernia?

A hernia is diagnosed when an internal body part ends up pushing into an area it does not belong. They usually develop in the chest area or hips, but they can be found in other areas too. There are several types of hernias, including:

  • Inguinal hernias
  • Umbilical hernias
  • Femoral hernias
  • Hiatus hernias

Inguinal hernias occur when your bowl or fatty tissue pokes into your groin at the top of your thigh. It is one of the most common types of hernia and is more prevalent in men, with 27% of men estimated to experience one in their lifetime. Femoral hernias are also caused by this and are more common in women.

Umbilical hernias occur in your stomach near your belly button. It can occur at any age, including babies, if the umbilical cord opening does not seal correctly after birth. 

Hiatus hernias are when a part of your stomach pushes into your chest through an opening in the diaphragm. There are also other types of hernias including muscle, incisional, and diaphragmatic hernias. 

What Causes a Hernia?

A hernia usually occurs due to weakness in the muscle or tissue walls and pressure. This combination pushes the organ or tissue through the weak or open area. You may have had the weakness since birth or it can occur during your life, such as due to stomach strain.

Specific hernias can be caused by factors such as:

  • Physical exertion
  • Pregnancy
  • Coughing
  • Obesity
  • Age
  • Lifting heavy objects 
  • Being born with a large hiatus 

Many factors can cause a hernia. However, they are most common as you age. Your healthcare professional will be able to explain some of the specific causes of the hernia you have. 

Hernia Symptoms

Hernias in the groin or abdomen may produce a lump or bulge. You may be able to push this bulge back in or notice that it disappears when you lie down. However, usually after coughing, physical activity, laughing, and other movements, it will return. 

Other symptoms include dull aching sensations, feeling full, pain when lifting or at the site of the lump, increasing lump size, and indigestion. However, it depends on the type of hernia you have, as there are other symptoms that may arise without a noticeable lump. 

Does a Hernia Cause Shortness of Breath?

Some people do not realize they have a hernia, whereas others wonder if certain symptoms are associated with their hernia. For example, a common question is can a hernia cause shortness of breath?

The pressure hiatal hernias put on your stomach can cause your stomach to hold acid, which can go up your esophagus. This can cause:

  • Heartburn
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Breathing difficulties 

Small hiatal hernias may not show any signs or symptoms. But if your hernia is larger, you will begin to notice symptoms such as feeling full and even vomiting or passing black stools.

Shortness of breath can occur due to the pressure on the diaphragm or compression of the lungs. These symptoms indicate that you need to seek medical assistance. It is important to find the reason for your shortness of breath and get the necessary medical assistance. 

Hernia Complications

Hernia complications can occur if you do not seek treatment. These include severe pain, vomiting, and the inability to have bowel movements. Symptoms such as shortness of breath can worsen, and there is even a risk of blood flow being cut, with a strangulated hernia needing immediate surgery due to it being life-threatening. 

When to Get Hernia Surgery  

If you are experiencing shortness of breath or other possible hernia symptoms, it is time to seek advice from a medical professional. One of the main treatment options is hernia surgery, especially for types of hernias that cause shortness of breath, such as abdominal wall hernias. 

It is estimated that around 1 million hernia repairs are performed every year, and hernia repairs are in the top 20 surgeries performed worldwide. Due to this, surgical interventions are improving all the time, with robotic-assisted hernia repair surgeries being more common than ever. 

Robotic Surgery for Hernia Repair

Robotic surgery is an alternative to open hernia repair, with some similarities to laparoscopic surgery. There is still a laparoscope, and the surgeon can see images of your abdominal wall.

However, the surgeon uses the robotic arms of the surgical console for the operation. It works by simulating the surgeon’s wrist, hand, and finger movements. It allows for greater accuracy and precision.

The stages of hernia surgery include: 

  • Inflating the abdomen with carbon dioxide for a better view of the space
  • Repairing the anterior abdominal wall
  • Strengthening the weak areas of the abdominal wall using 3D mesh 

The surgery can take around 30-45 minutes on average, and patients are usually discharged on the same day. This type of hernia surgery reduces blood loss and post-operative pain. It can also improve accuracy and recovery times.

Robotic Hernia Repair Surgery

Now you know the answer to the question; can a hernia cause shortness of breath? You also know your treatment options to stay well and healthy. If you need hernia surgery, consider robotic hernia repair.

SurgCo is here to support your hernia recovery. We are based in Tennessee and have a world-class team to provide the best care possible. We treat a variety of conditions including hernias. 

Reach out today to schedule your first appointment and plan your hernia surgery.