Best Ways to Prevent Hernia Problems

WhatsApp
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Hemant Kumar Khowal
Written by Sangeeta Sharma, last updated on 3 January 2024| min read
Best Ways to Prevent Hernia Problems

Quick Summary

Here are three tips to prevent hernia:

  • Avoid heavy lifting and straining.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Quit smoking.

If you have any concerns about hernia prevention, talk to your doctor.

If you are wondering how to prevent hernia, you are at the right place. A hernia could cause moderate to severe abdominal pain. It could cause serious health issues when left untreated.

You can avoid some types of hernias, but others cannot. Hernia prevention is, therefore, necessary to avoid getting it in the first place. Read the blog to learn how to avoid hernia. 

What is Hernia?

Hernia occurs when a section of the peritoneum or bowel pushes through a gap in the abdominal wall. The peritoneum is a lining around the abdominal cavity that encloses most organs in the abdomen. 

The bulging pouch, known as a hernia, can contain parts of organs like the bowel or stomach, creating a noticeable bulge. It can be caused due to lifting heavy weights, performing very strenuous exercises, obesity or being overweight, chronic constipation or straining while passing stools, persistent cough, or pregnancy.

The common types of hernias based on location are as follows:

  1. Inguinal Hernias: These occur above the groin, at a weak spot above the inguinal ligament, and are most common in men.

  2. Femoral Hernias: It is developed in the upper thigh below the inguinal ligament. Femoral hernia primarily affects women.

  3. Incisional Hernias: In this hernia, there is a development of scar tissue from previous surgical incisions where the abdominal wall is weaker.

  4. Umbilical Hernias: Happen near the belly button and are common in babies and overweight adults.

  5. Epigastric Hernias: The tissue protrudes through a gap between the breastbone and the belly button in the abdominal wall in the epigastric hernia.

  6. Diaphragmatic Hernias: These are not visible externally and occur when the diaphragm gap enlarges, allowing the peritoneum or part of the stomach to move into the chest area.

Most hernias do not resolve on their own, except for umbilical hernias in babies, which typically resolve within the first two years of life.Hernia

get the app
get the app

Necessity of Hernia Prevention

Hernias can lead to various problems like groyne pain and back pain. In some cases, untreated hernias can become serious, causing issues like intestinal blockage.

Preventing hernia may be necessary to address these complications:

  1. Incarcerated Hernia: While most hernias can be pushed back into the abdominal cavity, there are some, known as incarcerated hernias, that cannot be reversed. 

  2. Strangulated Hernia: If hernia prevention is not done early, it can result in severe conditions like strangulation, where the blood supply is cut off, leading to cell death. This is a medical emergency.

  3. Obstruction: Another complication is obstruction, where the flow of bowel contents is blocked, causing symptoms like cramps and vomiting. 

  4. Pressure on the Surrounding Tissues: Additionally, untreated inguinal hernias can grow larger, putting pressure on surrounding tissues and causing pain and swelling in the affected area. For example, large hernias in the scrotum of males can put pressure, pain, and swelling on the area around the scrotum.

Ways to Prevent Hernia

It is not possible to completely prevent a hernia, as it might sometimes arise due to genetic factors or a previous surgery. However, you can lower the risk of developing a hernia by making simple adjustments that reduce strain on your body. 

Taking proactive and healthy measures can significantly decrease the likelihood of a hernia occurring in your body. A few precautionary measures that you can take are:

  1. Lifestyle modification
  2. Dietary changes to prevent hernia
  3. Exercise to prevent inguinal hernia

Lifestyle Modification to Prevent Hernia

To prevent hernias, consider lifestyle choices that align with your workout routines, including weight-lifting practices. Below are the lifestyle modifications to help avoid hernias:

  1. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight: Obesity can exert constant pressure on the abdominal wall, especially during movement or excessive straining.

    This pressure can lead to weakened muscles and the protrusion of tissue or organs. Therefore, maintaining an ideal body weight is crucial in preventing hernias.

  2. Use a Stabilizing Belt: Wearing a hernia truss or belt, particularly for males, provides support and helps keep bulging tissue in place temporarily. While a hernia truss can offer comfort for inguinal hernias, it doesn't address the underlying issue.

    A stabilizing belt, however, can decrease the risk of hernia development by preventing strain and maintaining back stability during physical activities.

  3. Avoid Smoking and Drinking: Active smokers face a higher risk of hernias, as nicotine in cigarettes can weaken the abdominal lining, potentially causing organs to protrude.
    Persistent coughing due to smoking can also contribute to hernia development. Alcohol consumption, damaging the liver and stomach lining, increases the likelihood of hernias. To reduce the risk, it's advisable to quit smoking and limit alcohol intake.

Muscle weakness and strain are key contributors to hernias, which may develop suddenly or gradually depending on the underlying cause. Taking proactive steps to address these factors can prevent and manage hernias. 

Addressing the below factors can reduce the risk of hernia:

  1. Treating Persistent Cough: If you smoke, it can lead to persistent coughing. A chronic cough may trigger or worsen hernia symptoms. Consult your doctor if you have a prolonged cough, cold, or sneezing.

  2. Control Diabetes: Diabetes can increase complications with ventral or umbilical hernias. Manage diabetes with appropriate medications. Maintain normal blood glucose levels by consuming meals with fewer calories, less trans fat, sugar, and salt.

  3. Cure Constipation: Chronic constipation is a risk factor for hernias. Include fibre-rich foods in your diet to regulate bowel movements and reduce straining. Some may need additional fibre; consider fibre supplements like psyllium-containing laxatives.

Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Hernia

Dietary Changes to Prevent Hernia

It is common for individuals to be asymptomatic while dealing with hiatal hernia, where part of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm. Low-acidic food can decrease the chances of hernia. Mentioned below are the food items that can help prevent hiatal hernia:

  1. Vegetables: Opt for leafy greens like spinach, green peas, fenugreek (methi), water spinach, and mustard leaves, which are not only rich in fibre but also loaded with essential vitamins and minerals.
    Including high-fibre veggies such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and cucumber can reduce the risk of constipation and alleviate intestinal pressure.

  2. Fruits: Choose nutrient-rich and high-fibre fruits like bananas, apples, pears, and melons to promote smoother bowel movements and support digestive health.

  3. Lean Meat: Prioritize lean protein sources like skinless chicken and white fish. Lean meat helps to heal and repair the tissues.

  4. Legumes: Incorporate legumes, such as beans and lentils, into your diet for a wholesome source of protein and fibre. It contributes to digestive health and reduces the risk of hernia development.

  5. Nuts and Seeds: Include nuts and seeds in your diet for added nutritional benefits and a boost of fibre, further supporting your efforts to manage hiatal hernia symptoms.

Diet to Prevent Hernia

Food Items to Avoid

Certain foods can trigger heartburn symptoms due to their high acidity or tendency to weaken the lower oesophageal sphincter, allowing stomach acids to reflux into the oesophagus.
To manage these symptoms effectively, being mindful of your dietary choices is crucial. Following are the food items to avoid:

  1. Citrus Foods and Juices: Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons, along with their juices, are highly acidic, contributing to heartburn symptoms.

  2. Garlic and Onions: These items are known to increase stomach acid production, potentially leading to heartburn.

  3. Fatty and Fried Food Items: Fried chicken and fatty meat cuts can cause the lower oesophageal sphincter to relax, promoting acid reflux.

  4. Spicy Dishes: Excessive spicy foods can irritate the oesophagus and contribute to the relaxation of the lower oesophageal sphincter.

  5. Coffee and Tea: These beverages can relax the lower oesophageal sphincter and stimulate stomach acid production.

  6. Dairy Products: Whole milk, ice cream, and creamed foods can be high in fat, potentially relaxing the lower oesophageal sphincter. Soy milk and mild cheeses like feta or goat can be suitable alternatives.

  7. Oil and Butter: Excessive consumption of oil and butter can contribute to obesity, increasing the risk of heartburn. Using them in moderation helps manage symptoms effectively.

Yoga and Exercise to Prevent Hernia

In the pursuit of addressing hernias in non-congenital cases, a selection of yoga asanas has been made, each chosen for its specific impact on the inguinal canal, abdominal muscles, and intra-abdominal pressure.

The selected yoga asanas, each chosen for its targeted impact on the inguinal canal and abdominal muscles, collectively prove effective in treating reversible inguinal hernia:

  1. Vajrasana: It prepares the body for yoga therapy by compressing the inguinal canal while preventing abdominal protrusion.

  2. Ushtrasana: It facilitates the stretching of abdominal muscles, preventing herniation, and complements the compression over the inguinal canal.

  3. Paschimottanasana: This promotes the contraction of abdominal muscles while applying compression to the inguinal canal.

  4. Pawanmuktasana: This asana strengthens muscles, compresses the inguinal canal, and reduces intra-abdominal pressure.

  5. Utthanpadasana: It directly strengthens abdominal muscles. This prevents protrusion of abdominal contents.

Yoga for hernia prevention

Before engaging in any exercises for abdominal hernia, it is crucial to consult with your doctor. Many of these exercises are most beneficial when performed under the guidance of a doctor, especially during the recovery phase after hernia surgery.

Below are the steps of the exercise to prevent abdominal hernia:  

  1. Sit to Stand 

    1. Sit at the edge of a chair.
    2. Activate your core muscles.
    3. Lean forward, shifting your weight to your feet.
    4. Extend your legs, standing up fully.
  2. Seated Knee Extensions 

    1. Sit in a chair with back support.
    2. Lift one leg, straightening it.
    3. Lower the leg slowly and repeat on the other side.
  3. Pelvic Floor Contractions 

    1. Lie on your back.
    2. Take a few deep breaths.
    3. Exhale and tighten your pubococcygeal muscles (used to hold in urine).
  4. Forward Lunges 

    1. Stand with one foot slightly ahead of the other.
    2. Take a step forward with your back leg.
    3. Allow the front knee to bend, lowering yourself without fully placing your back knee on the ground.
    4. Stand up and repeat on the other foot.

Exercise to Prevent Hernia Image

Takeaway

A hernia can cause significant discomfort, making it essential to take preventive measures. Incorporating habits like maintaining overall health, following a balanced diet, and engaging in routine exercise can help prevent hernia development.

If you're concerned about preventing hernias, our team at HexaHealth is here to assist. Schedule a free online consultation to evaluate your risk of hernia development. You can have a detailed discussion about your condition with one of our top healthcare providers.

Suggested Reads

Precautions after Hernia Surgery
Laparoscopic Umbilical Hernia Surgery
Laparoscopic Ventral Hernia Repair
Ventral Hernia Surgery

Frequently Asked Questions

While it's not possible to completely prevent hernias, you can take precautions to minimise the contributing factors. Consider the following tips for hernia prevention:

  1. Maintain an optimum body weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise.

  2. Avoid constipation by incorporating sufficient fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your diet.

  3. Practice proper weightlifting techniques.

  4. Treat medical conditions like persistent cough or constipation to reduce the risk of hernia development.

Lifting a heavy object can be a risk factor for a hernia. Using safe lifting practices can lower the chance of hernia such as:

  1. Maintain a straight back while lifting heavy weights.

  2. Use leg muscles more than abdominal muscles.

  3. When turning, avoid twisting at the waist.

Simple exercises are often effective in resolving umbilical hernia in many children, eliminating the need for surgery. In adults, surgery is usually necessary, but engaging in gentle exercises can be beneficial during the recovery process.

Below are the effective remedies to prevent inguinal hernia:

  1. Utilize hernia belts for support.

  2. Incorporate light walks into your routine.

  3. Steer clear of foods that trigger inflammation, like spicy food, fried food, etc.

  4. Engage in abdomen-strengthening exercises.

  5. Maintain a healthy weight.

Include a fibre-rich diet in your meals.

If your hernia is causing pain, you may observe that more strenuous exercises worsen your symptoms. Less intense activities like light walking are advisable instead of running in such cases.

It is recommended to consult a doctor if you have a hernia. Below are a few ways to be followed after the hernia surgery for a swift recovery:

  1. Rest when you're tired.

  2. Aim to take a daily walk.

  3. If your doctor provides an abdominal binder, follow their instructions.

  4. Refrain from strenuous activities like biking, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercises until your doctor approves.

  5. Avoid lifting anything that might cause strain during the recovery period.

Include the following in your diet after the surgery for a swift recovery:

  1. Leafy greens.

  2. Beans and peas.

  3. Whole grains.

  4. Lean proteins such as tofu and fish.

  5. Whole nuts and seeds.

  6. Non-citrus fruits and juices.

  7. Artichoke and asparagus.

If you have a small, painless hernia, immediate treatment may not be necessary. Your doctor might recommend a watch-and-wait approach, monitoring for any developments, such as the onset of pain. However, if the hernia is causing pain or is sizable, your doctor may advise consulting a surgeon for guidance. In such cases, surgery may be recommended to repair the hernia.

If you can't push the hernia back in, it may result in the hernia contents becoming trapped (incarcerated) in the abdominal wall. This situation can lead to strangulation, where blood flow to the trapped tissue is cut off. If left untreated, a strangulated hernia can be life-threatening.

Hernias can be repaired with either open or laparoscopic surgery. During open surgery, the surgeon makes an incision close to the site of the hernia and then pushes the bulging tissue back into the abdomen. They may reinforce it with surgical mesh. Finally, they close the incision.

References

All the articles on HexaHealth are supported by verified medically-recognized sources such as; peer-reviewed academic research papers, research institutions, and medical journals. Our medical reviewers also check references of the articles to prioritize accuracy and relevance. Refer to our detailed editorial policy for more information.


  1. Information NC for B, Pike USNL of M 8600 R, MD B, Usa 20894. Hernias: Overview [Internet]. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2020. link
  2. Berrevoet F. Prevention of Incisional Hernias after Open Abdomen Treatment. Frontiers in Surgery. 2018 Feb 26;5.link
  3. Hammoud M, Gerken J. Inguinal Hernia [Internet]. PubMed. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020. link
  4. van Rooijen MMJ, Lange JF. Preventing incisional hernia: closing the midline laparotomy. Techniques in Coloproctology. 2018 Aug;22(8):623–5.link
  5. Smith J, Parmely JD. Ventral Hernia [Internet]. PubMed. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020. link
  6. Hernias: Incisional hernia repair [Internet]. Nih.gov. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2016.link
  7. Koike H, Matsui H, Morikawa Y, Shibata Y, Ito K, Suzuki K. Simple method for preventing inguinal hernias after radical retropubic prostatectomy. Prostate International. 2013 Jun;1(2):76–80.link
  8. Xie HF, Feng M, Cao SM, Jia YY, Gao P, Wang SH. Evidence summary for nonsurgical prevention and management of parastomal hernia in patients with enterostomy. American journal of translational research [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 May 23];13(11):13173–82.link
  9. Alagesan J, Ramadass A, Venkatachalam S, Mani S. Effect of yoga therapy in reversible inguinal hernia: A quasi experimental study. International Journal of Yoga. 2012;5(1):16.link
  10. Pereira-Rodríguez JA, Amador-Gil S, Bravo-Salva A, Montcusí-Ventura B, Sancho-Insenser J, Pera-Román M, et al. Implementing a protocol to prevent incisional hernia in high-risk patients: a mesh is a powerful tool. Hernia: The Journal of Hernias and Abdominal Wall Surgery [Internet]. 2022 Apr 1 [citelink
  11. Zhang HY, Wang ZJ, Han JG. [Risk factors and prevent strategy of parastomal hernia]. Zhonghua Wei Chang Wai Ke Za Zhi = Chinese Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery [Internet]. 2022 Nov 25 [cited 2023 Nov 24];25(11):970–5. link
  12. East B, Pawlak M, de Beaux AC. A manual reduction of hernia under analgesia/sedation (Taxis) in the acute inguinal hernia: a useful technique in COVID-19 times to reduce the need for emergency surgery—a literature review. Hernia [Internet]. 2020 Oct 1;24(5):937–41.link

Updated on : 3 January 2024

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational and learning purposes only. It doesn't cover every medical condition and might not be relevant to your personal situation. This information isn't medical advice, isn't meant for diagnosing any condition, and shouldn't replace talking to a certified medical or healthcare professional.

Reviewer

Dr. Hemant Kumar Khowal

Dr. Hemant Kumar Khowal

MBBS, MS General Surgery, Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery

13 Years Experience

Dr Hemant Kumar Khowal is a well-known General Surgeon and a proctologist currently associated with HealthFort Clinic in Delhi. He has 13 years of experience in general surgery and worked as an expert general surgeon in different ci...View More

Author

Sangeeta Sharma

Sangeeta Sharma

BSc. Biochemistry I MSc. Biochemistry (Oxford College Bangalore)

6 Years Experience

She has extensive experience in content and regulatory writing with reputed organisations like Sun Pharmaceuticals and Innodata. Skilled in SEO and passionate about creating informative and engaging medical conten...View More

Expert Doctors

Dr. Bachan Singh Barthwal

General Surgery

41+ Years

Experience

97%

Recommended

Dr. S K Tiwari

General Surgery

40+ Years

Experience

99%

Recommended

NABH Accredited Hospitals

Alpine Hospital
JCI
NABH

Alpine Hospital

4.91/5( Ratings)
Plot No. 140, Near Mother Dairy
BH Salvas Hospital
JCI
NABH

BH Salvas Hospital

4.89/5( Ratings)
Chandan Palace
get the app
get the app

Latest Health Articles

Related Treatments

aiChatIcon