wikiHow to Treat a Hernia at Home

Four Parts:Making Lifestyle ChangesUsing ExercisePreventing Future HerniasUnderstanding Your Condition

A hernia occurs when an organ pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. They are most common in the abdomen.[1] However, they can also appear in the upper thigh, belly button, and groin regions. Though the majority of hernias are not immediately life threatening, they will not go away on their own and will require surgical correction to prevent potentially dangerous complications. That being said, there are exercises you can do at home and lifestyle changes you can make to improve your condition – all starting with Step 1 below.

Part 1
Making Lifestyle Changes

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    Eat small meals often. It is recommended to eat 6 small frequent meals per day – 3 major meals and 3 snacks in between.[2] Large or heavy meals are not recommended as this can lead to backflow of stomach contents especially in cases of hiatal hernias. The acid moves back into the esophagus because a part of the stomach protrudes up through the diaphragm into the chest.
    • This is not an excuse to eat more. The snacks should be complimentary to smaller meals. Start with half or three-quarters of your plate until you get used to the proper portion sizes.
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    Avoid certain foods. In the case of hiatal hernias, avoid eating spicy foods, caffeinated drinks or anything that can upset the gastric contents of your stomach.[3] Foods that were enjoyed but dealt with before now need to be entirely avoided to reduce strain on your digestive system and body.
    • This includes some teas as well as soda and coffee. Some citrus juices and fruits are also best avoided to keep your stomach's acidity levels balanced.
    • Taking antacids once a day before meals will help in managing the symptoms of hiatal hernias as well, especially if you wind up accidentally consuming something that may upset your stomach.
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    Avoid being physical after meals. Don’t lie down, bend over, or get active directly after a meal. These activities can lead to a backflow of stomach contents as discussed above. Avoiding these activities can prevent further damage and injury to the affected area.
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    Lose weight. Being overweight increases the pressure in the abdominal cavity and causes the intestine to protrude through, therefore causing a hernia. Having a healthy diet (that includes small meals often) and doing exercises appropriate to your level can help you achieve this goal.
    • Before changing your diet and workout routine drastically, consult your doctor. He or she will give you the proper guidelines to lose weight without compromising your health.
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    Take painkillers. Painkillers work by blocking and interfering with the pain signals going through the brain. If the pain signal does not reach the brain, then pain cannot be interpreted and felt. Though you can go to your doctor for a stronger prescription, there are painkillers you can take that are also over-the-counter. There are two classes of painkillers you should consider:
    • Simple painkillers. Commonly over the counter and can relieve certain pains. A common example is Paracetamol. The proper dosage is determined by your weight and condition. Ask your doctor how much is appropriate for you.[4]
    • Strong painkillers. These will be necessary if the pain is not relieved by simple types of painkillers. However, certain precautions must be addressed since it can be addictive and effects may deteriorate over time. Examples of these are codeine or tramadol, and they're only available by prescription.
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    Consider taking NSAIDs, too. These are oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These medicines work by blocking specific body chemicals that cause the affected area to get inflamed. Common examples are Ibuprofen, Naproxen and Aspirin.
    • Similar principles regarding dosage apply here as well. How much and how often you should take NSAIDs is determined by your condition. Consult your doctor and follow the directions on the bottle to eliminate pain and avoid unnecessarily overdosing.
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    Wear a truss. Especially when surgery is forthcoming, your health care provider may manually press the hernia back into place and advise you to wear a special belt (called a truss) to hold the hernia in place until surgery. Although not entirely proven, wearing a truss after manually maneuvering the hernia in place can help.
    • However, know that this can be a painful and rather uncomfortable procedure so be ready to take over the counter pain medications such as Tylenol as needed.

Part 2
Using Exercise

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    Do inclined leg lifts. As stated above, a weakened area such as the abdominal wall can result in a protrusion of an organ or intestines. So as a solution, do exercises to help strengthen the body part in which a hernia occurs. Inclined leg lifts are a good place to start. Here's how to do this exercise:
    • Begin by lying flat with your head lower than your feet.
    • Slowly lift both legs for about 14 inches (35.6 cm) or 30 to 45°. For extra resistance, you can try this with a partner who applies slight pressure on your legs while you lift them and spread them slightly apart.
    • Hold this position for a few seconds and then return to your original position. Start with five reps and gradually increase it to ten.
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    Try the inclined cycling exercise. It is recommended to avoid exercises or activities that involve heavy lifting, pulling or pushing as this can aid in the occurrence of a hernia. Therefore the inclined cycling exercise is a good one to try. Here's how to do it:
    • Lie flat with your head lower than your feet with your hands at your side.
    • Bend at the hips and raise your knees over the body.
    • Using both legs, start with a cycling motion. Once a burning sensation is felt in the abdomen, stop the exercise.
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    Do pillow squeezes. Pillow squeezes are another great exercise that can strengthen your abdomen – without any expensive gym equipment. Here's how:
    • Lie flat with your head lower than your feet and your knees bent. Place a pillow in between your knees and hold it.
    • Start by inhaling. As you exhale, use your thigh muscles to squeeze the pillow. Make sure not to tilt your pelvis. After exhaling, release your thigh muscles.
    • You can begin with one set of ten reps and increase it to three sets gradually.
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    Try mini crunches. This exercise strengthens the walls of the abdominal muscles, too. If you're not keen on regular crunches, give mini crunches a try:
    • Lie flat on the floor with the head lower than your feet and your knees bent.
    • Start by bending your torso for only 30° while tightening your ab muscles. Hold this position briefly and then slowly lower yourself back to your original position.
    • Begin with one set of 15 reps and gradually increase it to three sets.
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    Do pool exercises. Performing exercises in the water adds resistance and makes it a little bit challenging to maintain balance. This aids even more in strengthening the abdominal area. If you have access to a swimming pool, consider these exercise:
    • Begin by simply walking in the water for three to five pool laps.
    • Once completed, do 30 reps of hip adduction and abduction, extension and flexion.
    • Lastly, do 30 reps of half squats.
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    Walk. Walking strengthens the upper and lower abdomen and the pelvic floor. Simply walk at least 45 minutes daily at a brisk pace, though it doesn't have to be all at once! Walking – even for 10 minutes at a time – can be effective and, not to mention, very relaxing, too.
    • Consider making small adjustments, like parking further away from any entrance, taking the dog for an extra walk in the morning, or taking your lunch to the park and walking around to work up an appetite.
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    Do yoga. Consult your health care provider first before trying out any strenuous forms of exercise. For some individuals, yoga is not recommended. Also, make sure that you do the poses in the presence of a trained yoga instructor so that he or she can guide you along the way. If you are given the okay to do yoga, the following asanas (yoga poses) are believed to relieve abdominal pressure, strengthen abdominal muscles and compress the inguinal canal:[5]
    • Sarvangasana (supported shoulder stand)
    • Matsyasana (fish pose)
    • Utthanpadasana (raised legs pose)
    • Pawanmuktasana (wind-relieving pose)
    • Paschimottanasana (forward bend)
    • Ushtrasana (camel pose)
    • Vajrasana (diamond pose)

Part 3
Preventing Future Hernias

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    Avoid lifting heavy objects. To avoid putting pressure on your muscles and your abdomen, it's imperative you avoid any heavy lifting. Or, if you absolutely must, consider proper body mechanics. Remember to lift objects using your knees and not your back.
    • This means that you should bend low before picking up an object, using your knees. Carry objects near your torso in order to distribute its weight. This way you can use up all the muscles without putting too much strain on a specific muscle group.
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    Stop smoking. Smoking can cause further deterioration of not only your muscles, but also other tissues in your body. If you're not doing it for your heart, lungs, hair, skin, and nails, do it to improve your current condition.
    • What's more, it's good for those around you, too. Try switching to a nicotine patch or gum to lessen the cravings. Gradually reduce your dependency – you don't have to go cold turkey.
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    Do your best to avoid getting sick. Sneezing, coughing, vomiting, and defecating can all put strain on your intestines and abdominal cavity. That being said, they are normal functions the body needs to do. Do your best to avoid becoming sick to avoid these being issues.
    • Avoid straining during bowel movements so that you will not put too much pressure along the abdominal area, if at all possible. And if you have a persistent cough, seek prompt medical attention to avoid further straining your abdominal muscles, too.
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    Consider surgery. If other measures fail, surgery may be required in order to repair the hernia. The surgery is called "herniorrhaphy" and can be done through the following:
    • Laparoscopic surgery. This uses a tiny camera and miniaturized surgical equipment to repair the hernia using small incisions. The hernia is repaired by sewing the hole to close the abdominal wall. A surgical mesh is also used to patch the hole. Laparoscopic surgery causes less damage to the surrounding tissue and requires a shorter recovery period than open surgery. Still, there is a risk of hernia recurrence.
    • Open surgery. This is suitable for hernias in which a portion of the intestines has moved down into the scrotum. Open surgery requires a longer recovery process. You can resume your normal daily activities six weeks after surgery.[6]
      • Both types of surgery are performed under either local or general anesthesia. The surgeon repositions the herniated tissue and, if strangulation has occurred, removes the oxygen-starved part of the organ. Hernia surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure.

Part 4
Understanding Your Condition

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    Know if you have an inguinal hernia. This is the most common type of hernia. For both men and women, the inguinal canal is found in the groins. In men, it is the area where the spermatic chord, which holds up the testicles, passes from the abdomen to the scrotum. In women, the inguinal canal contains a ligament that helps to hold the uterus in place. Symptoms for inguinal hernias include:
    • A lump on either side of the pubic bone, most felt when standing.
    • Pain, pinching or discomfort at the site of the bulge in the lower abdomen when bending, coughing or lifting.[7]
      • Inguinal hernias are common in men because the canal does not close properly, which can leave a weakened spot prone to hernias. Normally, a man’s testicles descend through the inguinal canal shortly after birth and the canal closes almost completely behind them. Inguinal hernias develop when the intestines push through the inguinal canal.[8]
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    Know if you have a hiatal hernia. A hiatal hernia occurs when part of the stomach protrudes up through the diaphragm into the chest. Hiatal hernias are most common in people over 50 years old.[9] Hiatal hernias cause gastroesophageal reflux, causing a burning sensation due to the leakage of stomach contents back into the esophagus. Symptoms for hiatal hernias include:
    • Gastro esophageal reflux – a burning sensation when stomach acid moves back into the esophagus because a part of the stomach protrudes up through the diaphragm into the chest.
    • Chest pain. The backflow of stomach contents and acid results in a burning pain in the chest.
    • Difficulty swallowing. The protrusion of a part of the stomach leads to a backflow of stomach contents and gives the person a feeling that the food is stuck on its way down to the esophagus.
      • Congenital birth defects can cause a child to acquire this condition as well.
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    Know if you have an incisional hernia. Incisional hernias occur when the intestines push through the incision scar or weakened tissue after abdominal surgery.
    • A bulge or swelling at the surgical site in the abdomen is the only "symptom." The intestines push through the incision scar or weakened tissue resulting in bulging or swelling.
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    Know if your child has an umbilical hernia. Babies under six months of age develop umbilical hernias if their intestines protrude through the abdominal wall near the belly button.
    • A sign that may suggest that the child has an umbilical hernia is if you notice constant crying and a bulge or swelling near the child’s bellybutton.
    • Failure of the abdominal wall to close leads to a weak spot leading to the development of an umbilical hernia.[10] These usually go away on their own when the child reaches around one year old. At the age of one, if the hernia is still present surgery is preferred to correct the problem.[11]
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    Know the causes of hernias. Hernias can develop abruptly or gradually. They can be caused by muscle weakness and strain to the body.
    • Common causes of muscle weakness include:[12]
      • Age
      • Chronic coughing
      • Damage from injury or surgery
      • Failure of the abdominal wall to close properly in the womb (congenital defect)
    • Factors that strain your body and may cause a hernia include:
      • Ascites (fluid in the abdomen)
      • Being constipated
      • Being pregnant
      • Heavy weightlifting
      • Persistent coughing or sneezing
      • Sudden weight gain
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    Know the risk factors, too. Several factors increase the risk of developing a hernia, including:
    • Chronic constipation
    • Chronic cough
    • Cystic fibrosis (it damages the function of the lungs that causes chronic cough)
    • Obesity or being overweight
    • Pregnancy
    • Personal or family history of hernias
    • Smoking
      • Some of these risk factors are within your control. Since hernias can recur, it's best to tackle the factors that you can to reduce your chance of this ailment coming back.
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    Know how you'll get diagnosed. Each type of hernia gets diagnosed in a different way. Here's how diagnosis works:[11]
    • Inguinal or Incisional Hernia. The diagnosis will be a physical examination. The medical professional would likely feel a bulge in the abdomen or groin that becomes larger when you stand, cough and strain.
    • Hiatal hernia. A barium X-ray or endoscopy will be performed to diagnose a hiatal hernia. During a barium X-ray, a liquid solution containing barium will be drunk by the patient and a series of X-ray pictures of the digestive tract will be recorded. An endoscopy utilizes a small camera attached to a tube and is threaded down to the throat into the esophagus and stomach. These tests allow the doctor to observe the location of the stomach in the body.
    • Umbilical hernia. An ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves that create an image of the structures inside the body that will be performed to diagnose an umbilical hernia to a child. Umbilical hernias in babies resolve on their own within four years. Those who are born with this condition only need close monitoring by their physician as time progresses.
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    Know the potential complications of a hernia. While initially these are sometimes not serious, if left untreated they can grow and become incredibly painful. It's best to consult your doctor at the first sign of any kind of hernia. Two main things can occur if left untreated:
    • Obstruction in the bowel. This can cause severe pain, constipation and nausea when the portion of the intestine becomes trapped in the abdominal wall.
    • Strangulation. This can occur when the intestine cannot receive enough blood flow. The intestinal tissue can be infected and damage its function which can be a life threatening medical emergency.


  • There are hernias that don’t manifest symptoms unless discovered during a routine physical or medical exam.

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Categories: Home Remedies