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Gender Disparities in Hernias and Obesity: A Critical Health Concern

In today's era of sedentary lifestyles and rising obesity rates, India faces growing health challenges, particularly concerning conditions like obesity and hernias. Recent studies underscore a significant link between obesity and hernias, highlighting a higher prevalence among women due to unique physiological factors.

Dr. Rajeev Premnath, General Laparoscopic Surgeon and Endoscopist from the Minimally Invasive Proctology Department at Ramakrishna Hospital, Bengaluru, emphasises the urgent need to address these gender disparities in hernia prevalence and obesity-related health risks.

Understanding the Link Between Obesity and Hernias, obesity, characterized by excessive body fat accumulation, not only reduces life expectancy but also increases susceptibility to various health complications, including hernias. A hernia occurs when organs or tissues protrude through weakened abdominal muscles. The strain from excess weight can exacerbate muscle weakness, paving the way for hernia formation. Unique Challenges for Women, women face distinct challenges regarding hernias, particularly influenced by life stages such as pregnancy and menopause. Hormonal changes and increased abdominal pressure during these phases can weaken muscles, predisposing women to hernias.

Dr. Premnath points out that women often experience hernias in locations less common in men, such as abdominal and femoral hernias, which are exacerbated by factors like obesity, childbirth, and heavy lifting.

Types and Symptoms, various types of hernias affect women differently, with symptoms ranging from visible bulges to subtle discomfort. Conditions like umbilical hernias, often observed during pregnancy, and incisional hernias, common after cesarean sections, require early recognition to prevent complications like intestinal obstruction. Combatting Recurrence and Treatment, Dr. Premnath stresses the importance of surgical intervention for hernias, as medications do not cure them. He highlights that obese women are at higher risk of hernia recurrence, necessitating lifestyle changes post-surgery.

Maintaining a healthy BMI through diet and exercise, along with proper lifting techniques and post-operative care, significantly reduces recurrence risks. Conclusion, the rising incidence of hernias among women due to obesity calls for increased awareness and proactive healthcare measures.

Dr. Premnath urges public health initiatives to address these disparities and emphasizes the role of early diagnosis and comprehensive treatment in managing hernias effectively.


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