“Hernia.” As the reporter at the start of this video from ABC2 WMAR says, just hearing the word can make us cringe— but why? How many of us actually understand what a hernia really is and, perhaps more importantly, how we know if we have one?

The possibility that you have had, do have, or will have a hernia is higher than you might think. According to the report in the video below, as many as 5 million Americans might be suffering from one and/or eventually experience the pain of one.

So don’t you think it behooves all of us to actually, finally understand what hernias are, their symptoms, and how to prevent and/or treat one? We did! Here’s what we found out.

As always, use this information as a starting point, not as a substitute for professional medical care. Always consult with your doctor if you have sudden and/or worrying symptoms, concerns, or suspicions of hernias or any other condition.

What Is A Hernia, Anyway?

As they say in the video, the simplest way of defining a hernia is a “defect or hole in the abdominal wall.” It’s usually present at birth – “thank” your genes – and heavy lifting and/or strain can make it bigger.

The Mayo Clinic breaks it down even more for us, clarifying that there are actually THREE TYPES of hernias:

  • Inguinal hernia: “An inguinal hernia occurs when tissue, such as part of the intestine, protrudes through a weak spot in the abdominal muscles.” This type of hernia is the one to which people generally seem to be referring when they use the general term “hernia.”
  • Hiatal hernia: “A hiatal hernia occurs when part of your stomach pushes upward through your diaphragm. Your diaphragm normally has a small opening (hiatus) through which your food tube (esophagus) passes on its way to connect to your stomach. The stomach can push up through this opening and cause a hiatal hernia.”
  • Umbilical hernia: “An umbilical hernia occurs when part of the intestine protrudes through the umbilical opening in the abdominal muscles.” This type is particularly common in babies, caused when the opening for the umbilical cord doesn’t close as per usual after birth.

What do all of these types have in common? Weak abdominal walls, intestines (or sometimes other organs) poking into areas they don’t belong— and the fact that they’re pretty common and nothing to panic over!

What Do You Do With A Hernia?

While, again, you shouldn’t panic, you should consult your doctor if you suspect you have a hernia. While some hernias – especially and specifically umbilical hernias in babies – close and go away on their own, surgery is the most common method of repair and treatment. Hiatal hernias can also sometimes be cured with medication.

“Surgery” is a scary word, but generally, the procedures themselves aren’t. Sometimes you can have your hernia fixed with only local anesthetic! (Isn’t modern medicine great?) Go to and consult a doctor you trust, and you’ll be just fine.

So when should you ask your doctor about the possibility of having a hernia? Watch the video below to learn the two simple signs and symptoms that might mean you have one.

Have you ever had a hernia or experienced these symptoms before? Did you know there were three types?