Q: How do you know if you have a hernia?

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With a hernia, an organ or other structure protrudes through a weak part of tissue or muscle. A hernia can create a visible lump or bulge in the skin. It can be uncomfortable, tender, painful, and cause burning or pressure. In some cases, a hernia may not cause any symptoms or may be a medical emergency. Symptoms depend on the type of hernia:

  • Inguinal hernia and femoral hernia (in the groin and upper thigh area): burning, tenderness, pressure in the groin or thigh; pain with heavy lifting or exercising; and swelling or pain in the testicle area

  • Umbilical hernia (of the belly button): bulge around the belly button

  • Congenital diaphragmatic hernia (birth defect in chest cavity): bluish coloring (cyanosis) of the lips, nails and skin; concave abdomen; rapid or difficulty breathing; rapid heart rate

  • Hiatal hernia (upper stomach along the diaphragm): acidic taste in the mouth, belching, difficulty swallowing, heartburn, indigestion, nausea, vomiting

  • Epigastric hernia (fat pushing through between belly button and rib cage): pain, tenderness, abdominal bump

  • Incisional hernia (around an abdominal incision, surgical wound): constipation; pain, lump or protrusion in the abdomen; nausea, vomiting, fever, or rapid heart rate

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. National Institutes of Health. Genetics Home Reference.
  2. Diaphragmatic hernia repair – congenital. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.