Hernia is a common ailment among young and elderly persons mostly characterised by small abdominal bulging and pain . In elderly patients, hernia can be a painful ailment if care is not taken in time. Though certain risk factors exist, hernia is potentially less harmful and almost always effectively cured.
A hernia occurs due to weakness in muscle tissue, when an internal tissue or organ protrudes through a weakened portion in surrounding tissue layer. As a result, noticeable swelling, pain, inflammation and discomfort in the region is observed.
A hernia can develop in senior people due to a number of causes.
If one or more of the above symptoms are noticed, a doctor must be consulted immediately. Doctors generally perform a physical examination, like a gentle touch to diagnose a hernia. In certain cases, ultrasound, MRI or CT scan might be recommended for further confirmation.
The most prevalent treatment for a hernia is surgery. Sometimes, constant monitoring and certain lifestyle maintenance are recommended by physicians before a surgery is performed. Often a supportive hernia belt is prescribed to be worn to control the pain.
"IS SURGERY SAFE FOR ELDERLY PATIENTS? ARE THERE RISKS?"
The most common question that arises when talking about hernia in the elderly is whether surgery is a safe treatment option for them. Doctors say it is completely safe and harmless.
Though, in this context, a few points are worth keeping in mind.
Certain lifestyle changes are recommended as one age which can minimize the risk factors of developing hernia
Any strenuous work must be discouraged strongly
Dietary changes like inclusion of fibre and whole grain-rich foods, fibre supplements, more intake of fluids and avoiding spicy foods must be ensured
If an elderly person has the habit of smoking, it should be stopped at the earliest. Healthy snacks might come handy to control cravings when quitting
Obese seniors should consult a physician or authorised dietician for methods to reduce and maintain a balanced weight
Any rapid loss in weight due to change in prescription or prolonged illness should be checked. Caregivers must consult a physician if weight loss exceeds 1 kg per week, or there are sudden bowel or appetite changes
Chronic constipation must be treated with priority
Very light exercises that strengthen core muscles around the torso and pelvic region, like low impact yoga, can be practised under the supervision of a physiotherapist
Geriatric caregivers must ensure constant monitoring and care especially post-surgery
Hernia's are no longer a life-threatening ailment amongst the elderly, with modern treatment options available. Proper medication and care in time can often reduce the need for surgery. Surgery, if required, is safer with the latest in medical technology, ensures almost zero recurrence and complete recovery into a healthier, happier, longer life. Keep smiling.
By: Sayantani Nath
Guest Author and Student of Biology
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