What is Bilateral Hernia?
Bilateral hernia is a condition in which, both the sides of the abdomen are affected by the hernia occurring in the groin, called inguinal hernia. Hence, bilateral hernia presents with inguinal hernia on both sides of the pubic bone or in both groins. Symptoms of bilateral hernia may be prominent in some, while other may not feel anything more than heaviness in abdomen. The causes of bilateral hernia are same as those in inguinal hernia; however, they may vary from person to person.
Hernias are caused due to weakening or overstraining of muscles. Bilateral hernia can either develop rapidly or take a long time to develop, depending on its cause. Anyone can suffer from bilateral inguinal hernia but in America, it is more common in males as compared to females.
Being an extremely common type of problem, bilateral hernia is not painful in the early days. However, with time, the weak spot begins to grow and the patient finds it painful to even perform simple acts like sneezing, coughing or lifting an object. Bilateral hernia can be dangerous as the structures within the abdomen like the intestines can get trapped, cutting off their blood supply. Bilateral hernia treatment is important to avoid complications like these.
Bilateral Hernia in Men and Women
Men and women are biologically different, hence conditions like bilateral hernia also occur differently. In men, the weak spot is mostly found near the inguinal canal. This canal is the place where the spermatic cord goes inside the scrotum. However, in women, a ligament is carried by the inguinal canal which is helpful in holding the uterus in place. The bilateral hernia in women occurs at the place where connective tissues from the uterus get attached to those tissues which surround the pubic bone. The causes of bilateral hernia in men and women depend on the strain caused in these areas that can result in inguinal hernia on both sides.
Causes of Bilateral Hernia
- When the abdomen experiences increased pressure of any sort, it increases the chances of bilateral hernia. The main causes of bilateral hernia include
When the increased pressure in the abdomen combines with an already existing weak spot present in the walls of the abdomen, either due to injury, surgery, defects or other causes. If the abdominal walls become weak after an injury or any other kind of abdominal surgery, it too can cause bilateral hernia later in life.
- Indulging in a lot of strenuous activities, like lifting heavy weights, certain occupations, sports, etc. can increase the risk of bilateral hernia. Bilateral hernia can be caused when a person lifts a lot of heavy objects without stabilizing the muscles of his abdomen first.
- Excess straining or exerting pressure during urination, constipation and bowel movements can increase the risk of bilateral hernia. Chronic sneezing or coughing which increases intra-abdominal pressure and can lead to bilateral hernia. This is even worse if accompanied by smoking.
- In some cases, the abdominal lining known as peritoneum does not close properly at the time of birth resulting in weak abdominal walls in the future, increases the chances of inguinal hernia.
- As a person ages, his chances of suffering from bilateral hernia increases by as much as 40 percent. Pregnancy is also a known cause for bilateral hernia.
- When a person does not consume nutritious food, the muscles of the body begin to get weak due to poor nutrition and can result in conditions like bilateral hernia through weak abdominal spots.
- Obesity is one of the biggest causes of bilateral hernia. Statistics reveal that 70 percent of obese American adults run the risk of getting hernia in their abdominal region.
Symptoms of Bilateral Hernia
Some of the most common symptoms of bilateral hernia are mentioned below:
- Swelling in Both the Groins - The area beneath the groin or abdomen's skin on both sides swells up immensely resulting in a bulge and is quite obvious when a person coughs. However, this swelling disappears when the patient lies down but the area continues to feel tender for some more time.
- Heaviness in Abdomen and Groins - The abdomen feels heavy and this may be accompanied by blood in the stool or bowel problems such as constipation. The groin or abdomen area feels uncomfortable when the patient bends over, coughs or lifts up an object. Feeling of heaviness or dragging sensation in the groin region. These symptoms of bilateral hernia may be relieved on lying down.
- Pain and Pressure – Bilateral hernia may present with symptoms of aching or burning sensation in the swollen area. The groin area may feel weak and pressurized. The testicles can experience occasional pain and swelling.
Treatment for Bilateral Hernia
- Heals With Time – In some cases, where the bilateral hernia is small in size and also painless, it heals on its own with time and immediate surgery option may not be required for the treatment. However, if the hernia becomes larger and causes discomfort then surgical correction is the only option for treatment of such bilateral hernia.
- Changes in Lifestyle – This is an ideal treatment option for bilateral hernia. Lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy body weight, eating small meals throughout the day and not bending or lying down after eating a meal can help reduce the pain and discomfort associated with bilateral hernia. Consuming a regular diet, with adequate fiber, plenty of water and regular bowel movements are important for bilateral hernia treatment with lifestyle changes. Avoiding activities that cause strain on the abdomen, lifting weight and other straining movements must be avoided.
Surgical Treatment for Bilateral Hernia
One of the most common surgeries carried out in America is that of hernia with more than 800,000 people going with surgical treatment of hernia. Surgical treatment option for bilateral hernia involves removal or annual repair of the herniated part. Taking less than 60 minutes in most cases, a surgical treatment option for bilateral hernia is considered to be the last option if nothing else works.
The surgeon makes a cut or incision in the groin area and removes the hernia sac. When this is done, the muscles are strengthened with the help of stitches while all the weak spots are covered by inserting a synthetic mesh in the affected area. An advanced method of performing this surgery for bilateral hernia is minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery which is also known as key-hole surgery.
Your surgeon will be able to decide which method would suit your problem best. Surgeons also try to repair the defect in the abdominal wall if the hernia is repairable thereby decreasing the complication risk of strangulation or bowel incarceration.
Bilateral hernia is common in Americans and in most cases; it is nothing to worry about. If your doctor feels that surgical treatment of bilateral hernia is the best option for you, it may be with the aim to prevent any further complications. In some cases, the doctor also repairs the weakened walls of the abdomen, curing the problem once and for all.
The possible treatment options for bilateral hernia must be discussed with your doctors. Based on the unique causes and symptoms of bilateral hernia, your doctor will be able to decide the best bilateral hernia treatment that suits your case.
If you feel a bump or swelling in the groin or lower abdomen area consult your doctor immediately without delay. Bilateral hernia is completely treatable with timely treatment.