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Hernia and Dementia Relationship

What’s the Relationship Between Hernia and Dementia Risk?

When someone undergoes surgery, they often think whatever was hurting them is done affecting their lives. However, some diagnoses relate to further health developments later in life. Hernias are one of them.

Anyone wondering about the relationship between hernia and dementia risk should continue reading to learn more. Understanding the connection will help you make more informed decisions for yourself and your loved ones.

What Is a Hernia?

People can get a hernia at any age. When a portion of their abdominal wall muscles weaken, one or more organs can press against the thin muscles and protrude outward. Sometimes this happens before a baby’s due date, when a child is young, during the young adult years, or during retirement.

Straining can cause a hernia when someone attempts a constipated bowel movement, becomes pregnant, physically exerts themselves too much, or gains too much weight. It depends on their body, age, and other factors within their health history.

What Health Problems Can a Hernia Cause?

Hernias can result in numerous health complications depending on the severity and the patient’s age. Elderly patients may worry about an age-related issue like mild cognitive impairment that causes noticeable changes in their lives, like forgetting names and tasks.

Still, hernias could become a significant challenge due to weakening muscles. An older person with a hernia may experience symptoms like:

  • Physical bulges
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bowel obstruction aches
  • Vomiting
  • Tissue death due to lack of blood circulation

Although the idea of scheduling a surgery may seem intimidating, hernia procedures are very safe. There are numerous ways to fix hernias that consider a patient’s age and current health complications.

It is important to always check with your health professional to seek guidance on what is right for you.

Does a Hernia Affect Life Expectancy?

Hernia surgeries have excellent results for patients of all ages. Elderly patients have a naturally higher risk of complications due to age, but the risk remains much lower than other types of procedures. Doctors often consider these essential factors when determining whether an older patient qualifies for hernia surgery:

  • Are there existing health complications that present comorbidities? Examples include diabetes, obesity, hypertension, anemia, and heart disease.
  • Will they be able to walk during recovery?
  • Do they have care partners to assist with their daily needs?

Most hernia patients don’t face any long-term health complications after undergoing the repair recommended by their doctor. If patients avoid lifting heavy objects for four to six weeks, their bodies absorb the sutures and never require another surgery. Life should return to normal immediately, without affecting a patient’s life expectancy.

How is a Hernia and Dementia Related?

It may not seem like an abdominal health complication would have anything to do with memory impairment, but research shows otherwise. A recent study found that people with hernias developed a higher risk of dementia later in life.

The participants in the study who had hernias also had a higher number of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) than participants without hernias. MMPs also have a higher presence in the brain of dementia patients.

The study compared the two groups and tracked the ongoing health of hernia patients after their repair surgeries. Results showed that those with hernias also had a 1.24-fold increased risk of dementia, likely based on their MMPs.

While getting a hernia doesn’t automatically guarantee you’ll have dementia, it is something to keep in mind. Those with a family history of dementia may want to seek more frequent medical checkups and testing after a hernia diagnosis.

JADCOM Media Dementia Hernia
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How to Fix a Hernia

There are four types of hernias: inguinal, hiatal, umbilical, and ventral. They occur in different sections of the abdomen, requiring various repair techniques for patients of all ages.

1 Inguinal Hernia Repair and Recovery

When someone develops a hernia, they most likely have an inguinal hernia. It happens when the intestines bulge through the inguinal canal and the abdominal wall. The canal is in the groin area for men and women, so anyone can get them.

Doctors can make a small incision above the canal to access the healthy tissue lining the hernia. Mesh may contain the intestines before sutures in the healthy tissue pull the hernia closed. Sometimes mesh may not be necessary, depending on the hernia size and what type of repair the doctor can perform.

2 Hiatal Hernia Repair and Recovery

Hiatal hernias shift up into the chest cavity. Part of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm, which can happen more frequently for older adults with age-weakened muscles. It results in acid reflux that may disrupt a person’s daily routine or quality of life.

Surgeons sometimes use a laparoscope to tighten the abdominal cavity around the patient’s food pipe and prevent stomach acid from hurting them anymore. They can also place an endoscope down the patient’s throat to tighten the esophagus.

Minimally invasive procedures like these are likely better for elderly hernia patients, as it significantly reduces their recovery time.

3 Umbilical Hernia Repair and Recovery

Someone with an umbilical hernia can expect an open technique surgery to fix it if it doesn’t resolve itself with continual monitoring. A small incision below the belly button reveals the hernia, which may resolve quickly with a few sutures. Larger hernias require mesh and absorbable sutures to prevent a recurrence.

4 Ventral Hernia Repair and Recovery

People may experience ventral hernias from birth or develop them as the years pass. They may not cause pain but decrease in size when you lay down. Even though they might not disrupt a patient’s life, they can worsen and still affect the placement of the intestines.

The repair technique is similar to others because surgeons make a small incision, push the intestines back to their correct places, and stitch it closed with or without mesh. Your doctor would decide if the intestines have damage or if the hernia is large enough to require mesh.

Hernia and Dementia: Be Aware of Related Health Complications

People often wonder what health problems a hernia can cause and if hernias affect life expectancy. Reading these factors should make understanding a recent or potential diagnosis easier. Your doctor will advise the best course of treatment, depending on your age and current health conditions.

About the Author

Beth Rush

group exercise for dementia
Beth Rush

Beth Rush is the Managing Editor and Content Manager at Body+Mind.

Body+Mind features articles about diet, fitness, mental health, parenting and health care.



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