Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

Hernia exam: Why do I have to cough?

Why do I have to cough during a hernia exam?

Updated: 04-23-2011

Answer

A hernia occurs when soft tissue — usually part of the intestine — protrudes through a weak point or tear in your abdominal wall. This bulging is most likely to occur when there's increased pressure on your abdomen, such as when lifting, straining, sneezing or coughing. Forcing a cough during a hernia exam causes your abdominal muscles to contract and increase pressure within your abdomen. This may force a hernia to bulge out, making it easier to detect during the examination.