WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
An inguinal hernia happens when a loop of intestine, fat, or tissue slips out of place inside your abdomen. It looks like a bump or bulge under the skin near your groin. A hernia may happen over time or it may happen suddenly. You may feel the muscle tear in the wall of your abdomen or groin. You may not even know you have a hernia until your caregiver finds it during a routine exam. Surgery is often needed to repair the hernia.
- Ibuprofen or acetaminophen: These medicines decrease pain. They are available without a doctor's order. Ask your primary healthcare provider which medicine is right for you. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. These medicines can cause stomach bleeding if not taken correctly. Ibuprofen can cause kidney damage. Do not take ibuprofen if you have kidney disease, an ulcer, or allergies to aspirin. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage. Do not drink alcohol if you take acetaminophen.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
- Activity: Avoid lifting, bending, and straining. Try not to stand for long periods of time. If you have to cough, try to cough gently. Support the hernia by holding your hand or a pillow over it when coughing. Ask your PHP if it is okay for you to have sexual intercourse.
- Prevent constipation: Straining to have a bowel movement may make your hernia worse. Eat foods that are high in fiber and drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. A high-fiber diet includes whole grains, bran, cereals, and uncooked fruit and vegetables. Walking or other exercise can also help. Your PHP may give you fiber medicine or a stool softener. Do not use an enema or a laxative unless your PHP says it is okay.
- What to wear: Do not wear anything tight over your hernia. Ask your PHP if you should wear elastic support to keep the hernia in place.
- Ask your PHP how to reduce your hernia: Sometimes your hernia will slip back into your abdomen if you lie flat for a while. If this does not work, you can try lying on your back with your hips higher than your head. Put a cloth-covered ice pack over the hernia for 20 minutes to reduce swelling. Ask your PHP if you should try to gently push your hernia back into place. If your hernia does not slide back into your abdomen easily, stop pushing on it and call your PHP. Do not try to push the hernia back into place if it is painful or tender.
Contact your primary healthcare provider if:
- You have nausea or vomiting.
- You cannot gently push your hernia back into your abdomen. (Do this only if your PHP has shown you how to do it.)
- You are constipated or have blood in your bowel movements.
- Your hernia is getting bigger.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have a fever.
- Your hernia is stuck outside your abdomen and is painful, swollen, or feels hard.
- You completely stop having bowel movements and stop passing gas.
- Your abdominal pain is bad or getting worse.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.