STOMACH HERNIA

Hernia: A mother's experience with protruding intestines

There are different types of hernias that mainly occur around the abdominal and groin areas

In Summary

• Causes include abdominal surgeries, physical exertion, straining in the toilet due to constipation, persistent and chronic cough and an enlarged prostate

• Diseases that affect tissue and skin formation are also among the known causes 

Surgery in progress
Surgery in progress
Image: AGENCIES

Have you ever seen a person with a protruding navel and thought it was probably a genetic malformation or something? Well, it isn’t a malformation but a condition called a hernia.

Hernias may or may not be painful. A hernia is a condition where somebody's tissues or muscles try to force through an area that has a weakness.

For example, if one has a hernia in the abdomen, part of the abdominal content may try to force through a weak point in the abdominal walls.

 
 

Mother of three Liz Meba, 36, began experiencing severe pain in her lower abdomen after she went to assist with some chores during her sister-in-law's wedding barely three months after giving birth to her lastborn son.

“The pain was too much to bear, so I decided to go to a hospital,” she said.

She was advised to have an ultrasound scan done, and the results showed that her intestines were forcing through the umbilical cord.

“They told me my intestines would rot if corrective surgery was not done within the shortest time possible,” she said.

She underwent what would be her fourth surgery to correct the condition, but the procedure was a nightmare.

“The pain was excruciating. They injected some anaesthesia through my spine but within twenty minutes the numbness was gone and I could feel everything that was going on. Yaani nilipiga nduru mpaka wakamaliza (I screamed throughout until they finished operating on me),” she said.

They put something called a mesh and stitched it around her umbilical cord, possibly to prevent a recurrence.

A boy with an umbilical hernia.
A boy with an umbilical hernia.
Image: JON SHUP PHOTOGRAPHY
 
 

Meba is now recovering well, though she was given a couple of instructions to adhere to.

She was told to avoid bending for long, lifting heavy things and sitting for long. Meba was also asked to lose weight, to which she admits she’s overweight.

“I weigh 94 kilos, which is too much for my height. I was told my ideal weight is 70 kilos,” she said.

UNDESCENDED TESTIS

Isaiah Wekesa and his wife did not anticipate anything out of the ordinary in their journey of parenting.

However, when their three-year-old son began developing fever every so often, they decided to take him to a physician. The once joyful boy had now become very irritable and a poor feeder.

“One of the ‘balls’ would move up and I would notice a swelling on his upper thigh. He used to cry a lot when that happened especially when passing urine,” Isaiah said.

Upon examination, the doctor told them the boy needed to undergo a surgery as he had developed a hernia due to undescended testis.

The surgery was performed at the Kenyatta National Hospital and was successful.

“Since then his condition has improved and he’s okay now. He doesn’t have any pain and is a happy boy,” Isaiah said.

DOCTOR'S ADVICE

You’re advised to see a doctor if you have any these symptoms: Pain, constipation and in extreme cases, nausea and vomiting.

A hernia is a condition where some body tissues or muscles try to force through an area that has a weakness.
A hernia is a condition where some body tissues or muscles try to force through an area that has a weakness.
Image: CLEVELAND CLINIC

Others include when a bulge pops out when there’s physical exertion, as well as frequent hyperacidity. For children, they may be irritable and have difficulty in feeding.

There are different types of hernias that mainly occur around the abdominal and groin areas.

Femoral and inguinal hernias form around the groin area, while hiatus hernias form around the upper part of the abdomen.

Umbilical and periumbilical hernias occur around the belly button and are common among premature babies or those with low birth weight.

Women who’ve had multiple pregnancies or are overweight are also predisposed to hernia.

Incisional hernias are common among people who’ve undergone surgical interventions, where somebody's tissues or muscles force through the surgical scar.

RISK FACTORS

Diseases that affect tissue and skin formation are also among the known causes of hernias.

Other causes include abdominal surgeries, physical exertion, straining in the toilet due to constipation, persistent and chronic cough, enlarged prostate, lifting heavy weights, being overweight or obese, old age, smoking and poor nutrition.

Children born with undescended testis are also highly predisposed.

While some hernias are reducible, others are not, depending on the results obtained after ultrasound or CT scans. In some cases, surgical interventions are performed to repair the muscles in the weakened areas.