An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

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While Dr. William Brown can repair hernias, he’d prefer people do what they can to prevent them. Often, unless you’re avoiding a hernia from recurring, you don’t think much about what you can do to prevent an inguinal hernia. Luckily, much of the advice is common sense and easy to follow. Chances are that you’re already doing much of what you can.

Don’t smoke
This isn’t the 1950s anymore. We know smoking causes death from serious problems with your cardiac and respiratory systems. But smoking also attacks collagen, making you look older than you really are and weakens your muscles that depend on collagen to remain strong. Weak collagen leaves you vulnerable to an inguinal hernia because your muscles tear more easily if you’re a smoker.

Don’t ignore coughs
The usual suspects that cause a hernia are sudden twisting motions like in sports and lifting heavy objects. Developing a persistent cough can cause an inguinal hernia because of the strain it puts on your abdominal muscles. If you’ve ever experienced a cough that doubles you over, then you understand the pressure it puts on the stomach muscles.

Get to and maintain a healthy body weight
If you’re overweight, the extra pounds put pressure on your abdominal muscles. That pressure can cause the muscle to rip, causing an inguinal hernia. Overweight patients with a hernia are advised to lose weight prior to surgical repair since the weight puts patients at a higher risk of recurrence.

Don’t strain or force yourself to go to the bathroom
The muscles used for bowel movements and urination are in close proximity to where inguinal hernias occur. Use a laxative for constipation instead of forcing the issue. If urinating requires straining muscles, see your doctor about it.

Use your legs for heavy lifting
Take a cue from weightlifters and delivery people. Always lift objects using your legs. Squat to lift rather than bending over and using your back and stomach muscles. For most people, leg muscles are stronger and core muscles are weaker. Bending at the waist to lift heavy objects creates too much pressure for the abdominal area and can cause a tear leading to an inguinal hernia.

Ask for help when lifting really heavy objects
You don’t see movers lifting couches and chairs without help. It’s hard for some people to ask for help, but it’s even harder to spend two months recovering from inguinal hernia repair surgery. If you need help lifting or moving a heavy object, ask for it.

Luckily, many of these prevention tips are common sense and easy to follow. Chances are that you’re already doing much of what you can. But, if you do suspect you’ve sustained an injury, make an appointment with a hernia specialist, like Dr. William Brown. He and his staff can answer questions about how to prevent inguinal hernias and how to know whether you might have one. Contact them for more information.