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Follow these tips to lower your risk of developing a hernia.

Hernias are relatively common and occur when one of your organs pushes through the muscle or tissue that is supposed to contain it. They most often occur in the abdomen or groin, although there are other places where they can occur. Most hernias are not serious initially but can worsen over time and may become very serious. The only way to treat a hernia is with surgery, but there are things you can do to help prevent one from occurring in the first place.

5 Tips to Lower Your Risk of Developing a Hernia

It’s not always possible to prevent a hernia, but by following these tips, you may make it less likely that one will occur:

  1. Exercise regularly – You already know that exercise is good for you in so many ways, but the right kind of exercise may also help strengthen muscles in areas where hernias commonly occur. The best exercise for this purpose is walking, swimming, yoga and exercising with light weights. Just don’t do anything too extreme or lift weights that are too heavy or it can cause the problem you’re trying to prevent.
  2. Watch what you lift – Not only do you want to avoid heavy weight lifting in the gym (or build up to it gradually so you don’t strain your muscles), but it’s best to avoid heavy lifting of any kind. If you need to pick up something heavy, learn how to do it properly, lifting from your legs rather than bending and straining your back or abdomen. Get assistance to lift heavy objects or use any equipment available to reduce the strain on your body.
  3. Don’t strain in the bathroom – Constipation is a risk factor for hernia and so is excessive straining during bowel movements. To lower these risk factors, make sure you get enough fiber in your diet by eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Also stay well hydrated, drinking plenty of water each day.
  4. Take steps to cough less – You may not be able to avoid coughing if you’re sick with a virus, but if you often cough excessively or heavily, you increase your risk of developing a hernia. One primary cause of chronic coughing is smoking. Other reasons you may cough include asthma, allergies, COPD and GERD. Although you may not be able to stop coughing completely, addressing these conditions can result in less coughing, reducing your risk of hernia.
  5. Lose weight – Excess weight, especially around the middle, causes strain on the abdominal muscles. It may also contribute to health issues that may cause coughing or constipation. Although there’s not a direct correlation between losing weight and lowering hernia risk, doing so may make it less likely you’ll have other factors that increase your risk for hernia.

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Date Last Reviewed: April 18, 2024

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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