If you have a hiatus hernia, you usually don't have any symptoms unless the sphincter muscles around the lower end of the esophagus become weak. When this occurs, the valve between the stomach and esophagus (gullet) won't stay closed, and stomach acids will spill into the esophagus. As a result, you may experience heartburn, sharp pain, regurgitation, belching, and sometimes bleeding. At night, you may experience coughing, breathlessness, or a choking sensation.
Signs and symptoms of an inguinal (groin) hernia include discomfort while bending over or during lifting. You may feel a small egg-like lump in your groin that may become more prominent with certain activities such as coughing. It will usually not hurt at first and will disappear when you lie down. If the bulge persists and is accompanied by nausea and vomiting or abdominal pain, this can be a sign that the hernia has become obstructed or strangulated.
Although rare, an untreated hernia that strangulates may result in gangrene (death of tissue), which is a life-threatening condition and requires emergency surgical attention. Symptoms of strangulation include pain, swelling, discoloured bluish or red skin, vomiting, and an inability to urinate.
Children with strangulated inguinal hernias may have fever and vomiting and should be seen immediately by a doctor.
Inguinal hernias may not make themselves known until your abdominal wall is weakened after years of straining during bowel movements or from heavy coughing or lifting. Smokers are prone to such hernias. Physical exertion such as lifting may exacerbate a hernia by suddenly causing the weakened abdominal lining to give way.
Paraesophageal hernias usually have no symptoms, but if symptoms do occur, the most common are pain, indigestion, nausea, and retching.