Do you know the difference between hemorrhoid and a hernia? A painful bulge may indicate a hernia or hemorrhoid, and while the two conditions may appear similar, they affect different areas of the body and are fundamentally different.
There are many different types of hernias that are classified by location, and there are two basic types of hemorrhoids that are categorized by degree.
While some similarities exist, it is critical to understand how to identify each condition so that you can receive proper treatment and care. In this blog post, we will discuss the key differences between a hernia vs hemorrhoid, as well as common causes, signs, and treatment options.
What Are The Types Of Hernias?
Inguinal is a word that means “in the groin.” They are more common in men, but they can also occur in women. This is the most common kind of hernia, and it usually looks like a bulge in the groin area on either side of the pelvis. Inguinal hernias can be present at birth or form when the abdominal muscles are strained or put under constant pressure.
A ventral hernia is caused by a tear in any part of the abdomen (except the groin) that allows tissue or an organ to squeeze through a weak area of the abdominal wall. There are many types of ventral hernias, including:
- Umbilical hernia – A common hernia that appears in babies’ and young children’s belly buttons. Most of the time, this kind of hernia goes away on its own as the child gets older. If the umbilical hernia is still there when the child is 4 or 5 years old, it may need surgery to be corrected.
- Incisional hernia – A weak spot in the abdominal wall can be caused by surgery that was done in the past. When this weak spot tears, it can cause a hernia that is often bigger and harder to fix than other types.
- Epigastric ventral hernia forms in the center of the abdomen, between the breastbone and the belly button, in a vertical line.
- Lateral ventral hernia – A type of hernia that happens very rarely (less than 1%) and is more common in women. It can happen on either side of the vertical center line of the abdomen. They are also called Spigelian hernias, and they can be there from birth or develop later.
- Periumbilical ventral hernia – Most of the time, these hernias happen in obese people or older men. They can happen above or below the belly button.
Happens in the top part of the stomach and can squeeze through parts of the diaphragm that are weak. Often made worse by being overweight or smoking. Hiatal hernias cause people to have frequent heartburn or trouble swallowing.
How Do You Recognize A Hernia?
When fat, tissue or a portion of an organ forces its way through a weak area or crack in the abdominal muscle or soft tissue, a hernia occurs. Hernias can range from being mildly inconvenient to potentially fatal, depending on the type and severity of the hernia.
Hernias in adults are most commonly found in the groin or abdomen. You may notice or feel a bulge in one of these areas if you have a hernia, and you may also suffer discomfort that worsens with certain actions, such as lifting something or standing for an extended period of time.
A hernia can develop suddenly after bending, coughing, laughing, or lifting weights or heavy objects, or it can form over a period of weeks or months.
The majority of hernias are external, which means that the tissue is pushing through the abdominal wall and out the other side, frequently resulting in a visible bulge. However, a hernia may also be internal, meaning it does not protrude from the body and would not be visible externally.
Common Signs And Symptoms Of A Hernia
- A bump or bulge that can be depressed or that disappears when lying down;
- Groin or scrotum swelling or bulge (men);
- Pain at the site of the bulge that gets worse;
- Having pain when you lift heavy objects;
- A bulge that grows in size gradually;
- Experiencing pain that is dull and constant;
- Chronically feeling full without haven eaten.
What Factors Contribute To The Formation Of A Hernia?
When a muscle in the abdominal wall is weakened or torn, an organ like the intestines can push through the opening, causing a hernia. Hernias can be caused by a number of different things, including:
- Weak abdominal muscles;
- Severe straining while constipated;
- Exerting excessive pressure while carrying heavy objects;
- Physical injury;
- Chronic coughing or excessive vomiting;
- Hernias can be present at birth if there is a malformation in the physical development of the baby or if there are difficulties during the pregnancy.
Adults who are prone to hernias should avoid activities such as lifting heavy objects and standing for extended periods of time without taking breaks. There are cases in which hernias are not discovered until the patient is an adult. If you have a hernia, you should get medical assistance as soon as possible, regardless of the cause, because hernia tissue could become entrapped, which could significantly increase the chance of additional complications.
What Are Hemorrhoids?
When blood accumulates in enlarged veins of the lower rectal area, a medical ailment known as hemorrhoid develops. Itching, pain, burning, and even bleeding are all possible side effects of hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids are caused by swollen veins that push outside into the lower rectum, and a hernia occurs when an organ pushes through an opening in tissue or muscle. When comparing hemorrhoids and hernias, both conditions are caused by pressure and exertion, and both cause discomfort; however, they are two completely different problems. Hernias typically require surgical repair to alleviate pain and potential complications, whereas hemorrhoids can often be treated non-invasively and at home.
Two Types Of Hemorrhoids
- Internal hemorrhoids are swollen areas within the rectum. They are caused by tiny, bulging veins in the rectum wall. Internal hemorrhoids are normally painless and rarely need treatment.
- External hemorrhoids are swollen veins that develop outside the rectum and protrude outside of the anus and are often painful. In many cases, they can be treated with a variety of non-surgical methods such as warm baths and over-the-counter topical creams. In severe circumstances, you may need a strong prescription drug or surgery.
Perineal Hernia vs Hemorrhoid
Although it is rare, sometimes a perineal hernia and hemorrhoid can look similar and may be mistaken for each other.
An external hemorrhoid is a swollen vein that is displaced outside of the rectum and protrudes through the anus. A perineal hernia protrudes through the pelvic floor and sometimes causes a sudden enlargement on either or both sides of the anus, possibly bulging through to the outside of the anus. A perineal hernia can include fat, fluids, intestinal material, a portion of the rectum, or the bladder.
Prior surgical procedures that included the perineum are common causes of perineal hernias. Having to strain too much while defecating might potentially lead to a hernia in the peritoneum. Prostate or urinary illness, prolonged constipation, or persistent diarrhea are other potential triggers. Perineal hernia risk factors include weakened levator ani muscles and pudendal nerve dysfunction.
Although they may look a bit alike, rectal hernias and hemorrhoids have different origins and require different treatments.
Hemorrhoid vs Hernia: What Are The Key Differences?
A hernia is the abnormal protrusion of an organ or a portion of an organ through a weakness in the lining of the cavity where it is located. Hemorrhoids are veins located in your lower rectum that have become swollen and sometimes can protrude from the anus.
The most significant distinction between hernias and hemorrhoids is that only the area around the anus and the rectum can be affected by hemorrhoids. They are more of a collection of blood vessels, connective tissues from the anal canal, and smooth rectal muscles, as opposed to a hernia, which contains internal organs and occurs in the groin, abdominal wall, and internally near the stomach.
Hernias can also move a little bit because of the way the body digests food. Because a hernia normally involves segments of the intestine (which is involved in the digestion process) that have been pushed through a weak area of the abdominal muscles and protrude to be visible under the skin in the abdomen.
Hernias are normally softer and more pliable than hemorrhoids due to their composition. You may only notice a hernia if you cough, sneeze, or strain, whereas external hemorrhoids will be continually painful and firmer than a hernia.
What To Do If You Think You May Be Suffering From Hemorrhoids Or A Hernia?
The best course of action to take if you are experiencing symptoms indicative of either of these conditions is to contact your doctor. As trained medical professionals, they will be able to determine between a hernia and a hemorrhoid and recommend the proper treatment or refer you to a specialist if necessary.
Treatments For Hernias Or Hemorrhoids
There are different treatments available for both hernias and hemorrhoids that will vary depending on the severity of the condition.
- Hernia Treatment
- Some smaller hernias do not require any treatment unless they are causing pain or are in danger of causing complications, but most hernias rarely resolve on their own and tend to gradually grow worse, eventually requiring surgery. It is advisable to have a doctor monitor any existing hernias to avoid a severe complication called a strangulated hernia that often requires emergency medical intervention.
- Hemorrhoid Treatment
- Most mild or moderate cases of hemorrhoids can be treated with warm baths or over-the-counter medications, but more severe cases may require surgical intervention. There are several techniques used to treat more severe hemorrhoids, including hemorrhoidectomy, rubber band ligation, HRA (hemorrhoid radiofrequency ablation), and Laser HemorrhoidoPlasty LHP®.
If you are having issues with rectal pain, itching, or bleeding, chances are you have developed hemorrhoids and should contact a medical professional such as IBI Healthcare Institute to determine the cause and obtain treatment.
If you have a visible lump protruding under your skin in the groin area or along the abdominal wall, you may have a hernia. If you experience chronic GERD or severe chronic heartburn, you may be suffering from a hiatal hernia.
The experts at IBI Healthcare Institute can help determine the cause of your pain and discomfort and provide safe and effective medical care. Contact us today and set up an appointment.