Inguinal Hernia in Children

Inguinal Hernia in Children

An inguinal hernia is when fat or the intestines push through a weak spot in a muscle where the leg meets the lower belly (groin). This causes a rounded lump (bulge).

This kind of hernia could also be:

  • In the scrotum, if your child is male.
  • In the folds of skin around the vagina, if your child is female.

There are three types of inguinal hernias. These include:

  • Hernias that can be pushed back into the belly (are reducible). This type rarely causes pain.
  • Hernias that cannot be pushed back into the belly (are incarcerated).
  • Hernias that cannot be pushed back into the belly and lose their blood supply (are strangulated). This type needs emergency surgery.

In some children, you can see the hernia at birth. In other children, symptoms do not start until they get older. Surgery is the only treatment. Your child may have surgery right away, or your child’s doctor may choose to wait for a short period of time.

Follow these instructions at home:

  • You may try to push the hernia in by very gently pressing on it when your child is lying down. Do not try to force the bulge back in if it will not push in easily.
  • Watch the hernia for any changes in shape, size, or color. Tell your child’s doctor if you see any changes.
  • Give your child over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your child’s doctor.
  • Have your child drink enough fluid to keep his or her pee (urine) pale yellow.
  • If your child is not having surgery right away, make sure you know what symptoms you should get help for right away.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your child’s doctor. This is important.

Contact a doctor if:

  • Your child has:
    • A cough.
    • A fever.
    • A stuffy (congested) nose.
  • Your child is unusually fussy.
  • Your child will not eat.

Get help right away if:

  • Your child has a bulge in the groin that gets painful, red, or swollen.
  • Your child starts to throw up (vomit).
  • Your child has a bulge in the groin that stays out after:
    • Your child has stopped crying.
    • Your child has stopped coughing.
    • Your child is done pooping (having a bowel movement).
  • You cannot push the hernia in place by very gently pressing on it when your child is lying down. Do not try to force the bulge back in if it will not push in easily.
  • Your child who is younger than 3 months has a temperature of 100°F (38°C) or higher.
  • Your child’s belly pain gets worse.
  • Your child’s belly gets more swollen.

These symptoms may be an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get medical help right away. Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.).

Summary

  • An inguinal hernia is when fat or the intestines push through a weak spot in a muscle where the leg meets the lower belly (groin). This causes a rounded lump (bulge).
  • Surgery is the only treatment. Your child may have surgery right away, or your child’s doctor may choose to wait to do the surgery.
  • Do not try to force the bulge back in if it will not push in easily.
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