Most of the guys would have encountered this embarrassing episode during a physical examination when the doctor touches their testicles and tells them to turn their head and have a cough. Despite how discomfiting the act seems, it is one of the important examinations doctors carry out. So, essentially what are they looking for when they do this? In the simplest terms, they are looking for hernia.
A hernia is a condition in which a part of an internal organ is displaced and squeezes through an opening or weak point of the cavity that contains it. There are different types of the condition; inguinal (inner groin), incisional (from an incision), femoral (outer groin), umbilical (belly button), and hiatal (upper stomach). When doctors ask you to turn to your side and cough, they are specifically looking for inguinal hernia, which is the most common among the various types, and mostly occur in men. It is estimated that around 66% people show the signs of inguinal hernia.
Inguinal hernias happen when lower intestine or the bladder starts to come through the lower abdominal wall through a small hole or into inguinal canal of the groin. The inguinal canal is situated where the testicles meet the upper torso. The natural weakness of men in this region is one of the prime reasons for the occurrence of inguinal hernia. The doctors have to put their fingers near the top of the testicles on a male patient and ask him to cough so that if a hernia is there, it can be sensed bulging from the lower abdomen. The patients are asked to turn their heads to direct the cough away from the physician. Some are only asked to cover their mouth with their hands. The act of coughing can help the doctor easily discern the presence of hernia, since the bowel is pushed downwards while coughing.
The hernias are caused by weakness or opening in walls of the muscles and the pressure of the organ. The pressure pushes the organ through the opening or towards the soft part of the muscle creating a bulge on the walls of them. People may have the weakness in muscles at birth or may develop it later, mainly through the activities that exert unusual pressure on the internal organs. According to researchers, 27% men and 3% women develop hernia at some point of their lives. Surgery is the most recommended treatment for hernia, although minor problems can be solved with watchful observation. The surgery for hernia is commonly called hernia repair.
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