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Effect of Tobacco on Hernia

Cigarette smoking and other activities that involve using tobacco are known to harm almost every organ in our body, either directly or indirectly. There are numerous reasons why you should stop using tobacco and tobacco-containing products. Most people know that the use of tobacco-containing cigarettes can affect your heart and lungs. But did you know that using tobacco-containing products can affect your hernias too, particularly the Inguinal Hernia?

Inguinal Hernia occurs when a portion of the intestine or other abdominal tissues protrude through an opening or weakened portion in the abdominal wall near the groin area. Inguinal Hernia is the most common type of hernia. And about 90% of all inguinal hernias occur in males.

How does Tobacco affect Inguinal Hernia

As mentioned earlier, men are more likely to get inguinal hernias. And if you are a male smoker, your odds of getting an inguinal hernia increase if you already have a defective inguinal canal. This is because; the nicotine and other toxins found in tobacco and tobacco-containing products can degrade collagen. Collagen is an important structural protein that is found in the various connective tissues of our body. This collagen provides strength to the abdominal wall. Since smoking causes collagen degradation, it weakens the abdominal wall and thus can increase the risk of hernia.

The second reason is cigarette smokers cough often because the smoke irritates and damages your lungs. Since smokers tend to cough more often than non-smokers, they put more strain on the already weakened abdominal wall. The constant strain on the abdominal wall can eventually lead to a hernia. This factor can also be counted for causing an incisional hernia.

How does tobacco affect the results of hernia surgery?

Collagen plays an important role in wound healing after surgery. Tobacco usage after surgery can slow down the healing process. The recovery time for tobacco users after any surgery is found to be longer than non-tobacco users. Since the recovery period is longer for tobacco users, the repair is not strong enough and hence the recurrence of hernia is fairly high. The longer recovery period also increases the risk of infection. Cigarette smokers who continue to smoke after the surgery will cough often which will create a lot of pain during the recovery period.

So quit smoking to not only avoiding the recurrence of hernia or making your hernia worse but also to lead a generally healthier life.

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