If a hernia is left untreated it is possible for the abdominal contents entering the hernia to become stuck. Should this occur the hernia becomes increasingly painful.
If the hernia contains bowel then it will become blocked. This produces colicky abdominal pain in addition to the constant pain experienced within the hernia, abdominal distension, vomiting and a variable degree of constipation. Patients may hear a lot of gurgling coming from their abdomen as the bowel contracts vigorously in an attempt to overcome the blockage. With time, the blood supply to the bowel may be cut off, this is called strangulation. This may lead to the bowel rupturing and the development of peritonitis.
This is a serious complication requiring emergency surgery, which is why doctors recommend the repair of the majority of hernias as a matter of routine.
Hernias that can develop complications, cause you pain, or limit your activity should be repaired, as they will only get larger and cause problems in the future.