Abdominal hernia

An abdominal hernia is the exit of abdominal contents through a weakened point of the muscular wall, causing a noticeable bulge. They are relatively frequent, do not remit on their own and may require surgery.

The risk factors for the appearance of hernias are the following:

  • Sex: it is much more frequent in men than in women. In addition, the vast majority of newborns who develop hernias are male.
  • Chronic cough: sustained coughing, such as that associated with smoking, increases the risk.
  • Constipation: straining during defecation is a frequent cause.
  • Overweight and obesity: excess abdominal fat increases pressure on the abdomen.
  • Pregnancy: this condition can cause weakening of the abdominal muscles.
  • Heavy physical work: having a job that requires continuous weight bearing.
  • Abdominal surgery.
  • Premature birth.
  • Personal history of hernia: if you have had a hernia before, you are more likely to develop another one.


Symptoms may vary depending on the location of the hernia, distinguishing inguinal, femoral, umbilical and epigastric hernias, mainly.

All forms of abdominal hernia manifest themselves as a hard and tense bulge that cannot be undone. In addition, it may become more noticeable on exertion such as coughing or lifting. Usually no further symptoms are present, but they may also be accompanied by a burning sensation or pain, a feeling of heaviness (especially in inguinal hernias).

One of the serious complications of hernias is the strangulation of its contents, which can interrupt blood flow and requires urgent surgery.


The risk of abdominal hernia can be reduced by actions that decrease the pressure in the abdomen. These include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Avoid constipation with a healthy diet rich in fiber.
  • When exerting yourself, be aware and strengthen the abdominal area to minimize the impact.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking causes chronic coughing which increases the risk of abdominal wall dysfunction.
  • Practice abdominal wall strengthening exercises, especially in people at higher risk, such as pregnant women or after certain surgeries. Physical therapy can be very beneficial in these cases.

Number of observed variants

13.5 million variants

Number of risk loci

11 loci

Genes analyzed



Abdominal hernia. UK Biobank Database. Data-Field 550 [Version 2018]

Hernia. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus (NIH) [Aug 2022]

Wei J, et al. Identification of fifty-seven novel loci for abdominal wall hernia development and their biological and clinical implications: results from the UK Biobank. Hernia. 2022 Feb;26(1):335-348.

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