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Hernia in Children: Care Instructions

Locations of common types of hernias, with detail of a hernia protruding through the muscle wall

Your Care Instructions

A hernia forms when tissue bulges through a weak spot in the wall of the belly (abdomen).

There are several types of hernias. Umbilical hernias occur when intestine, fat, or fluid pushes through a weak spot in the belly near the belly button. Other types of hernias in the belly include epigastric (near the stomach), ventral (in the middle of the belly), and incisional (where a surgical cut was made). Inguinal and femoral hernias occur in the groin area. Some babies are born with a diaphragmatic hernia. It's an opening in the large muscle (diaphragm) between the lungs and belly.

Pressure when your child lifts, strains, or coughs can tear the weak area. This can cause the hernia to bulge and hurt.

Babies and young children are more likely to have tissue get trapped in a hernia. If your child has a hernia, he or she may need surgery to repair it.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Talk with your doctor about when your child can return to normal activities.
  • Help your child stay at a healthy weight.
  • Keep your child away from smoke. Do not smoke or let anyone else smoke around your child or in your house. Smoke can cause coughing, which can cause the hernia to bulge.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse belly pain.
  • Your child is vomiting.
  • Your child cannot pass stools or gas.
  • You cannot push the hernia back into place with gentle pressure when your child is lying down.
  • The area over the hernia turns red or becomes tender.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if your child has any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.