By MIRIAM ZIMBA –
HERNIA is a condition in which a loop or portion or tissue protrudes through an abnormal opening, Zambia Medical Association (ZMA) chairperson for Public Health Committee Jonathan Sitali has said.
Dr Sitali said most people affected by this condition suffer from inguinal hernia, which he defined as a protrusion of a piece of intestine or tissues of the intestine lining, caused by a weakness in the abdominal wall.
In defining hemorrhoids, which are sometimes confused with hernia, he said hemorrhoids which are commonly referred to as piles, occurs when the skin lining of the anus (anal cushion) comes through it with its underlying blood vessels.
Dr Sitali said hemorrhoids are frequently characterised by pain and rectal bleeding. “The two conditions are very different, and should not be viewed as one and the same,” he said.
He said hernia may result because one was born with a weakness in the abdominal wall (especially in children), while adults may get this because of manual work, excessive exertion, abdominal mass.
“Fluid collection in the abdomen or because of a chronic lung infection…conditions which all increase the pressure within the abdominal cavity and tend to push out intestines through any weakness…usually through the lower part of the front of the abdomen (inguinal canal),” he said.
Dr Sitali, however, said a lot of people tend to have hemorrhoids for no obvious reason, but that some of its causes include pregnancy, pelvic tumours and chronic constipation. It is thought that straining on defecating plays a major role in the aeitiology of hemorrhoids.
In describing the two conditions as curable, Dr Sitali said hernia usually requires a surgical operation to strengthen that weakness and prevent any further protrusion.
He said treatment of hemorrhoids includes treating the symptoms as they surface, alongside dietary advice to increase on fiber content in food and increased intake of fluids to avoid constipation.
Other treatment modalities include stool softeners, anal rectal suppositories to alleviate pain, while surgery directed at hemorrhoids includes sclerotherapy, infrared coagulation and cryotherapy,” he said.
Hemorrhoids can be prevented (to some extent) by watching one dietary habits, and by increasing on fiber and intake of fluids to avoid constipation, which causes a strain on defecating.