A hernia, a localized bulge that appears in the abdomen or groin, is caused by a weakness spot (hole) in the muscular layer of your abdominal wall called the fascia. It is quite common, especially in men. Though many times it can be treated successfully, it could also be fatal in a few cases. So how long can you live with it?
There is no formula to exactly calculate the prognosis and life expectancy of people with hernias, since each case can vary. But in general, the outcome of the disease is quite awesome in most cases.
Reducible vs. non-reducible
Depending on the status and severity of hernias, they can classified into two main categories; reducible and non-reducible.
Reducible means the bulge is easy to be pushed back to the abdominal cavity. For example, it can easily subside (decrease in size) when you’re lying down. As such, is not an immediate threat to your life, though sometimes it could be very bothersome when it causes pain and other discomforts!
On the other hand, non-reducible is a condition in which the bulge doesn’t respond to manual pressure (it becomes persistent or more difficult to be pushed back in, making you lose the ability to flatten it out). It can be more painful than reducible type.
Immediate treatment is required for non-reducible type, because it can make the hernia contents get trapped (incarcerated). And an incarcerated hernia may cause strangulation, a condition in which the blood supply to the affected tissues is cut off. This strangulation is very serious and could be fatal (life-threatening) if not quickly fixed with surgical intervention – for more information about this, see also how can a hernia kill you?!
With hernia, how long can you live?
Again, the prognosis for most hernias is good with prompt treatment. Currently, surgery is the single option to fix and repair the hernia hole in the abdominal fascia, because your fascia is not able to regrow and close the hole without surgical intervention. Non-surgical medications are also available to help cope with hernia symptoms, but they don’t repair the hole.
Soon after surgery, most patients are able to carry out their normal activities if they don’t have any surgical complications. Even with minimally invasive surgery (also called laparoscopy, a procedure of surgery that uses a laparoscope (camera)), you can have less pain and faster recovery after the operation.
And it’s rare for hernia to return after surgery. The rate of recurrence is low for both open and keyhole surgeries. So with prompt treatment, people with hernia can have an average expected lifespan like anyone else.
But though surgery often works successfully, it’s not going without risks. Also, many cases of hernia are not necessarily dangerous. For these reasons, early surgery is not always required. Sometimes wait-and-see approach is more recommended (particularly if there is no symptom that bothers you a lot).
If your doctor recommends watchful-waiting approach, make sure to avoid things that can worsen your hernia (see more in this post). As long as you don’t have any troublesome symptoms, there should be nothing to worry!
To keep safe, see your doctor without delay if you have the following warning signs and symptoms:
- You start having hernia-related abdominal complaints, even though if they are mild.
- Your hernia pain gets worse and doesn’t relieve with home remedies.
- Your pain is followed with other unusual symptoms such as fever, severe nausea and vomiting.
- The bulge becomes purple, dark, red, or discolored.
- The bulge is more difficult to be pushed back into your abdomen.
Unlike in men, early hernia-repair surgery is often required for women. Though hernia is not common in women, hernias in women are more likely to turn into serious over time – therefore, wait-and-see approach is probably not appropriate.