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Can a Hernia Cause Constipation? Plus 6 Physical Symptoms
Gut Health

Can a Hernia Cause Constipation? Plus 6 Physical Symptoms

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 September 7
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5 min

Getting a hernia is never fun to deal with, especially if it stops you from going to the toilet properly. There are many hernia symptoms that could affect the digestive system. We explain whether a hernia causes constipation and the signs of a medical emergency.

Can a hernia cause constipation
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People who get hernias usually experience painful symptoms. 

This could range from stomach pain to visible lumps around the abdomen. Most of the time, this condition is treated through surgery, but leaving it untreated could severely affect your bowel movements. Since everything in your gut is connected, you’re bound to experience constipation.

There are many types of hernias that may lead to chronic constipation. You might be thinking – what happens if a hernia develops, and how do I resolve painful bowel obstructions?

In this article, you’ll discover if a hernia causes constipation, along with 6 symptoms to be aware of.

Can a Hernia Cause Constipation?

Yes, a hernia may cause constipation due to painful bowel obstructions. Those who have inguinal hernias usually suffer from irregular bowel movements and difficulty passing gas. Other signs include swelling in the abdomen, acid reflux, and lower back pain. 

Hernias can block your large intestine and interfere with the upper digestive system. This may make it challenging for the body to pass extra gas, resulting in more uncomfortable symptoms. The hernia site leads to a bowel obstruction that could cut off blood supply to your intestines.

No more blood supply results in a strangulated hernia, which requires immediate medical attention. A doctor will perform hernia repair surgery to remove the bowel obstruction and push the organ back into its original place, preventing any more damage to the large intestine.

Serious constipation is obviously not easy to deal with. It can produce symptoms like back pain, headaches, and even nausea. Hiatal hernias, which usually affect the upper digestive system, tend to damage your diaphragm muscle and dehydrate the body due to excessive vomiting.

What Is a Hernia?

A hernia happens when an internal organ sticks out through the wall of muscle that usually protects it. For example, people get an inguinal hernia when their intestines push through a weak area in the abdominal wall, leading to severe pain in the stomach. 

Many hernias affect the abdomen, chest, hips, upper thigh, and groin. They normally aren’t life-threatening and can be treated with hernia repair surgery. Just be aware that an untreated hernia can lead to dangerous complications like severe gut inflammation and even sepsis. 

You should seek medical help upon noticing chest pain, strange lumps, and constipation. A hernia specialist can evaluate your abdominal wall and check for other serious problems. Surgery might seem like a scary thing for some, but it’s necessary for your long-term health.

Why Does a Hernia Hurt?

A hernia hurts because the affected muscle or tissue is being stretched and torn by the protruding organ. You will most likely feel pain in one area, but it could spread if the hernia worsens. Always seek immediate medical attention to treat this painful condition. 

Smaller inguinal hernias might not hurt at first, but the pain can kick in once you move around and cause extra stress to that area. The abdominal muscles might also feel pain due to internal bowel obstruction, so make sure not to leave this untreated and avoid heavy lifting.

However, just be aware that small femoral hernias may be unnoticeable. This is a type of hernia that occurs when your bowel pokes through into the groin. Many people don’t get pain if the obstruction is very small, so it just depends on where the hernias affect your surrounding tissue.

When to Worry About Hernia Pain?

You should worry about the pain when it worsens over a few hours,  makes you physically sick, and comes with a high temperature. If you also have pain around the bulge, treat it as a medical emergency to avoid serious complications.

A bowel obstruction will always produce some kind of pain. The body is trying to heal part of the intestine, so it’s normal to feel a certain level of discomfort. However, too much pain could mean your affected organs are in serious danger and require open surgery on the bowel obstruction.

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Just remember that an untreated hernia can grow too large and cause more pain. This could be chest pain from chronic constipation or infections in the lower abdomen. A bowel obstruction will ruin and damage your digestive system, so don’t hesitate to undergo hernia repair surgery. 

Symptoms of a Hernia

There are a few physical symptoms you should be aware of. People who notice these physical changes in advance can seek medical help quickly before the bowel obstruction gets worse. 

Here are 6 common symptoms of hernias:

#1 Abdominal pain

Depending on the type of hernia, you’ll most likely experience abdominal pain. This is because the bowel obstruction is damaging the intestines and straining your muscle tissue. You could feel the pain near your belly button or lower groin area when you move around excessively. 

#2 Pain while lifting

Sudden pain while carrying heavy objects could be a sign of bowel obstructions. The level of discomfort depends on where the hernia is. For example, hiatal hernias affect the diaphragm, so lifting with your chest can put extra pressure on that area and trigger more deterioration. 

#3 Constipation

One of the main symptoms includes constipation. Since your bowel can’t work properly due to the protruding organ, it stops food from passing smoothly through the gut. Some people report experiencing other side effects from serious constipation, like frequent headaches and vomiting

#4 Fever

A fever means your immune system is actively trying to fight off infections.

This could suggest that the affected large or small intestine is getting worse. Of course, if you have a high temperature and experience cold sweats, seek urgent medical attention. Doctors can treat bowel obstructions and stop the hernia infection from causing sepsis

#5 Nausea and/or vomiting

People with severe hernia pain might feel physically sick. This is especially true for groin hernias that put pressure on the pubic bone. The nervous system is in a hyperactive state, which naturally changes your hormones and leads to that nausea feeling deep in your stomach.

#6 Visible lumps

You’ll most likely notice visible lumps around the painful area. These could be purple-red lumps that are almost bulging out of the skin. A lump is usually part of the intestine or other bowel obstructions that get worse after lifting heavy objects, coughing, or straining on the toilet. 

A Word From Our MD

The most common hernias occur in your groin or abdomen. Some people get a hernia due to a combination of pressure and muscle weakness. For example, incisional hernias happen when the intestine, organ, or other types of tissue poke through weak surgical healing scars.

Other reasons for bowel obstructions include poor nutrition, repeated muscle strains, and obesity. You can easily prevent hernias by staying active and giving your body time to rest. Cardio-based exercise, like going for a long run, can also prevent chronic constipation.

Just make sure to seek medical help after getting a hernia. A doctor can arrange surgery to ease any bowel obstructions and give you advice about the long-term recovery process.

Conclusion 

So, can a hernia increase the risk of constipation?

The simple answer is yes – hernias will cause bowel obstructions that are painful. You won’t be able to pass gas or go to the toilet frequently. If you have these physical changes, consult with your doctor or speak to a specialist about getting the right surgery.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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