No one's immune from occasional upset stomachs, and nearly 40% of us will likely struggle with more serious digestive disorders like ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The good news is that doctors and scientists are constantly learning new things about the many complex diseases that affect our stomachs. So although tummy aches will continue to plague us, separating myth from fact about these nagging pains will shorten the time it takes to find relief.
By Jeannette Moninger
Fact: Less than 10% of inguinal hernias (by far the most common type) are caused by physically strenuous activity. The real culprit: weak abdominal walls that allow parts of your intestines to bulge outward when pressure's exerted on them. Blame genetics or previous surgeries for these weak spots. "Women who've had Cesarean sections, appendectomies, or similar surgeries are at higher risk because their abdominal muscles have been cut," says Richard Desi, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Mercy Medical Center's Institute for Digestive Health and Liver Disease in Baltimore. Chronic coughing, being overweight, and even straining during bowel movements can also lead to tears in the abdominal wall. Without surgery to fix the problem, the weakened area and the intestinal bulge will get bigger over time.