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Inguinal Hernia in Children

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

AMBULATORY CARE:

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 organs in place. The hernia may contain fluid, tissue from the abdomen, or part of an organ (such as an intestine).

Common signs and symptoms include the following:

You may see a bulge or lump in your child's groin, lower abdomen, labia (outer skin flaps of the female genitals) or scrotum. Inguinal hernias usually do not cause pain. Signs and symptoms may disappear when your child lies flat or relaxes. They may get worse when he or she cries, coughs, stands up, or strains to have a bowel movement.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child's hernia gets bigger, is firm, or is blue or purple.
  • Your child's abdomen seems larger, rounder, or more full than normal.
  • Your child stops having bowel movements and stops passing gas.
  • Your child has blood in his or her bowel movement.
  • Your child is crying more than normal or seems like he or she is in pain.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child is vomiting.
  • Your child has trouble having a bowel movement.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Treatment

may involve surgery if the hernia does not get better on its own. Surgery can be done to place your child's hernia back inside of the abdominal wall. Your child may need the following:

  • Give your child NSAIDs as directed. NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, help decrease pain and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If your child takes blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for him or her. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
  • Do not give aspirin to children younger than 18 years. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he or she has the flu or a fever and takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin or salicylates.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell the provider if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Care for your child:

  • Give your child liquids, and foods high in fiber, as directed. Liquids and fiber may prevent constipation or straining during a bowel movement. This may prevent the hernia from getting bigger. Ask how much liquid to give your child each day and which liquids are best for him or her. Foods that contain fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, and whole grains.

  • Do not place anything over your child's hernia. Do not place tape or a coin over the hernia. This may harm your child.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Your child may need to see a surgeon to plan surgery. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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.