Hernias are a relatively common condition that can affect both men and women. While they largely tend to be harmless, they can potentially lead to complications if left untreated. One of the more serious complications to watch out for is strangulation.
A strangulated hernia occurs when the blood supply to the tissue is cut off. Without oxygen, this tissue can start to release toxins, causing infection within the bloodstream. This can prove fatal, so it should be treated as a medical emergency.
The question is, how do you know if you have a strangulated hernia? Here you’ll discover what it feels like and the top symptoms to watch out for.
Common symptoms of a strangulated hernia
To detect a strangulated hernia early, you need to know the symptoms to look out for. The main and often first symptom you’ll experience is sudden acute pain.
As time progresses, the pain gets increasingly worse. You will also find that nothing eliminates it, and it worsens minute on minute. If the pain alone isn’t enough to point towards a strangulated hernia, watch out for the following accompanying symptoms:
- A hot or burning sensation around the hernia site
- Blood in your stools
The symptoms of a strangulation tend to be quite severe. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above alongside severe pain, seek medical attention immediately.
The difference between a strangulated and incarcerated hernia
Strangulation risk is probably greatest with femoral hernias and is more likely to happen if the hernia opening is quite narrow.
Strangulated hernias can present a lot like incarcerated hernias. An incarcerated hernia is diagnosed when the bulge becomes trapped within the sac of the hernia. This can trap part of the intestine, causing issues with passing stools.
While an incarcerated hernia can cause a blockage, it doesn’t cut off the blood supply. This means unlike a strangulated hernia it isn’t classed as a medical emergency. However, if left untreated it can lead to a strangulated hernia.
The symptoms of an incarcerated hernia are similar to that of a strangulated hernia, only without extreme pain. They include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Inability to pass gas
- Mild to severe discomfort
As you can see, the symptoms are very similar to strangulation. However, you can typically tell the difference in how much pain you experience. A strangulated hernia is often much more painful than an incarcerated one.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, be sure to get checked out by a doctor. They will be able to correctly diagnose the hernia.
Treating a strangulated hernia
Strangulated hernias are treated as an emergency. Open surgery will normally be carried out to relieve the strangulated tissue. The surgeon will sometimes not repair the hernia there and then. Instead, you will need to undergo an additional procedure, later on, to have it removed completely.
If you have a hernia, it is better to have it treated as quickly as possible. Doing so will prevent nasty and potentially deadly complications like strangulation from occurring. Book a consultation with Mr Woodward today to see which treatment option is right for you.