A hernia belt is a support garment which applies consistent pressure to an abdominal hernia, significantly reducing the pain associated with herniated tissue and reducing the risk of developing a hernia-related medical complication. These garments are not designed to treat hernias: the only way to cure a hernia is to undergo surgery. However, they can increase comfort for patients who are waiting for surgery.
Abdominal hernias occur when the tough membrane around the abdomen weakens, allowing an internal organ to push through. Classically, abdominal hernias involve a loop of the intestines which forces its way through the abdominal wall. This condition is extremely painful in many cases, and it can also be very dangerous, as the herniated tissue is at risk of strangulation, meaning that the supply of blood will be cut off, causing the tissue to die. The treatment for a hernia involves surgery to push the herniated tissue back and repair the site of the herniation.
Hernia belts are designed to push the herniated tissue back into the abdomen, and to keep it there. If a patient develops a hernia, he or she may be told to wear a hernia belt while waiting for a surgery appointment. The belt will increase patient comfort, allowing the patient to engage in normal activities, and it will greatly reduce the possibility of strangulation. Some patients may also wear a belt after surgery to reduce the chance of recurrence and give the site an opportunity to heal.
Wearing a hernia belt will not cause a hernia to resolve, but it can be a stopgap while waiting for surgery. In the instance of minor surgeries, a surgery appointment may not be readily available, in which case the support provided by the garment will make a big difference in quality of life for the patient. While wearing the support garment, the patient may need to attend doctors' appointments periodically so that the doctor can check on the status of the hernia.
If an abdominal hernia becomes strangulated, it needs immediate surgery. Signs of strangulation include an elevation in temperature, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and extreme pain at the hernia site. Prompt medical attention should be obtained if these symptoms manifest.
Hernia belts are available at many drug stores, and also through some doctors' offices. A doctor may recommend a specific brand or type, based on experience and the patient's particular case. Many come with removable padding to vary the pressure, along with straps which can be used to adjust the tension of the belt for comfort.