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Inguinal Hernia in Children: Care Instructions


An inguinal hernia occurs when tissue bulges through a weak spot in the groin area. Your child may have a tender bulge in the groin or, in a boy, the scrotum. Your child may also have pain, pressure or burning, or a feeling that something has "given way."

Hernias are caused by a weakness in the belly wall. The bulge or discomfort may occur after heavy lifting, straining, or coughing. Hernias do not heal on their own, and they tend to get worse over time.

In most cases, a child with an inguinal hernia will need surgery.

Infants 12 months of age and younger who have these hernias have a much higher risk of problems than older children and adults. For example, the intestines may become trapped in the hernia. When this happens, it cuts off blood supply. Because of that risk, hernia surgery is often not delayed for infants.

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?

  • Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask the doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Help your child stay at a healthy weight.
  • Include fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains in your child's diet each day. These foods are high in fibre and will make it easier to avoid straining during bowel movements.
  • 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 your child's 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.