ZocdocAnswersCan a bulge in the abdominal region be a hernia?

Question

Can a bulge in the abdominal region be a hernia?

I have a bulge in my stomach area that I'm trying to identify. It's soft and small and I can kind of push it back in and it pops back out again. Is this a hernia? If so, what exactly is it? Do I need to go to a doctor about it or will it be okay if I let it take care of itself?

Answer

Hernias are a very common medical problem and a very common reason for people to seek medical advice. The doctors who will be well qualified to discuss this issue with you in greater detail include your primary care doctor. Hernias of the abdominal region are caused when small defects in the abdominal wall allows small amounts of intestine or other abdominal contents to slip out. These most commonly occur in the umbilicus or belly button (umbilical hernia) but can occur directly through the abdominal wall (ventral hernia) or through an old surgical scar (incisional hernia). The physical signs of a hernia are exactly as you describe, namely a small soft area that bulges out but can be slipped back in. Hernias tend to grow over time and most should be surgically corrected. Sometimes they need emergency evaluation if they become incarcerated, which means strangled by the abdominal wall and no longer able to be slipped back inside; if you have significant abdominal pain and inability to slide the hernia back you should go to the emergency room. As always the diagnosis and the management of your particular condition will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Setting up an office visit with your primary care doctor is strongly recommended.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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