Every year in the U.S., more than one million surgical hernia repairs are performed. (Approximately 80% are for inguinal hernias.) And with more people getting fully-vaccinated against COVID-19, more Americans are looking forward to travelling to see friends and family they haven’t seen in over a year.
But for those that have a hernia, is it safe to travel? Here’s what to keep in mind before you go…
Despite the fact that many hernias shrink or even disappear on their own, some hernias do worsen over time. And symptoms don’t always develop gradually. Sharp pain can develop overnight.
If you feel even the slightest bit of increased pressure or pain, you may want to think about putting off the trip, no matter how eager you are to go. Hopefully, your trip isn’t planned for another couple weeks and you can get an appointment scheduled with your doctor. It’s important not to wait until after your trip to get the hernia looked at.
That’s because, even though your symptoms may be mild, your hernia could be strangulated or trapped. The former condition is characterized by a lack of blood flow caused by the hernia pinching or choking off a part of the intestines; the latter is caused when the hernia is physically imprisoned inside the abdominal wall. A trapped/imprisoned hernia can rapidly worsen.
Travel Triggers for Hernias
Not to make you paranoid before you go, but it’s important to keep in mind that even a little sneeze can cause a hernia to go from asymptomatic to painful. So, too, can lifting a heavy suitcase. Therefore, try to have a couple smaller suitcases rather than one heavy one. If you’re travelling alone and can’t avoid taking a large suitcase, try to get someone to help you with your bag.
Travelling, depending on how you’re getting there and how long the trip will take, can be stressful. Stress can also be a trigger for symptomatic hernias. In light of this, make sure that you have a plan of action in case your hernia gets worse during your travels. Will you be somewhere that has close access to reliable healthcare should your condition worsen? Or, will you be fly fishing in remote backcountry?
And if in the unfortunate event you do need to seek medical attention while away, will your insurance cover it? Or will you have to pay out of pocket? And if it’s the latter, will you be able to afford it? It may be wise to contact your health insurance carrier and find out what will be covered.
You should also look into getting supplemental travel insurance in case you need to cancel your trip because of a medical emergency.
Getting Hernia Surgery Soon? How Long To Wait Before Travelling?
If you’re planning on flying within a month or so after getting hernia surgery, make sure you check with the surgeon or your doctor if it’s safe to do so. Depending on the severity of your hernia, it could take a minimum of 8 weeks before flying and travelling is recommended.
And finally, if you are getting hernia surgery, ask the surgeon if Ethicon PhysioMesh will be used. This particular type of mesh, a study showed, has a much higher failure rate than other widely available hernia mesh products. In fact, 20 percent of Ethicon Physiomesh implants failed within six months of implantation, the study revealed.