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Inguinal Hernia

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 1, 2023.


An inguinal hernia

happens when organs or abdominal tissue push through a weak spot in the abdominal wall. The abdominal wall is made of fat and muscle. It holds the intestines in place. The hernia may contain fluid, tissue from the abdomen, or part of an organ (such as an intestine).

Inguinal Hernia

Common signs and symptoms:

A hernia may happen over time or it may happen suddenly. Some movements can make symptoms worse. Examples include when you cough, sneeze, strain to have a bowel movement, lift, or stand for a long time. You may have any of the following:

  • A soft lump or bulge in your groin, lower abdomen, or scrotum
  • Pain or burning in your abdomen

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have severe abdominal pain with nausea and vomiting.
  • Your abdomen is larger than usual.
  • Your hernia gets bigger or is purple or blue.
  • You see blood in your bowel movements.
  • You feel weak, dizzy, or faint.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for an inguinal hernia

usually involves surgery. Surgery can be done to place the hernia back inside the abdominal wall. Before you have surgery, you may be given medicine or have a manual reduction. Manual reduction means your healthcare provider uses hands to put firm, steady pressure on your hernia. Your provider will continue until the hernia disappears inside the abdominal wall. You may need the following:

  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider 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 healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage your symptoms and prevent another hernia:

  • Do not lift anything heavy. Heavy lifting can make your hernia worse or cause another hernia. Ask your healthcare provider how much is safe for you to lift.
  • Drink liquids as directed. Liquids may prevent constipation and straining during a bowel movement. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
  • Eat foods high in fiber. Fiber may prevent constipation and straining during a bowel movement. Foods that contain fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, and whole grains.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, weight loss may prevent your hernia from getting worse. It may also prevent another hernia. Talk to your healthcare provider about exercise and how to lose weight safely if you are overweight.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can weaken the abdominal wall. This may increase your risk for another hernia. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.

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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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.