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What are the characteristics of an inguinal hernia?

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Quick Answer

An inguinal hernia typically causes a bulge on either side of the pubic bone, and the protrusion is most prominent when a person is standing, straining or coughing, according to Mayo Clinic. An individual is often able to push the herniated area back into the abdomen when lying down. Common symptoms include groin pain, weakness or pressure, and a gurgling or burning feeling at the bulge site.

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Full Answer

An inguinal hernia forms when intestinal or fatty tissue protrudes through the inguinal canal at the base of the abdomen, states Healthline. In women, the inguinal canal is located at the ligament that supports the uterus, while in men, the canal lies near the testes. An inguinal hernia may be painful and sensitive, or it may not cause any symptoms. Men have a higher risk of developing this type of hernia, and they may experience scrotal swelling.

Inguinal hernias have many possible causes, but they commonly develop at birth when the peritoneum, or abdominal lining, does not fully close and creates a weak spot, notes Mayo Clinic. Some cases occur when the abdominal muscles weakens over time from pressure, exertion, aging or smoking-related coughing. Pregnancy, excess weight and chronic constipation are also risk factors. People who were born prematurely or have a family history of inguinal hernias are susceptible to the condition, and environmental factors, such as occupational lifting, increase the risk of developing it later in life.

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