Know the basics
What is hernia?
Hernias occurs when parts of organs or tissues (such as a loop of intestine) protrude into areas where they don’t belong. They push through openings or weaknesses in a muscle wall, so a bulge or lump appears.
If hernias bulge only during pressure or strain, they’re called reducible and aren’t very harmful. Tissues trapped in an opening or pouch that can’t pull back are incarcerated hernias, which are serious problems. The most dangerous hernia is strangulated. In these, trapped tissue loses the blood supply and dies.
How common is hernia?
Most common in babies and children are external hernias: inguinal (in the groin) and umbilical (near the belly button). Umbilical hernias are very common, especially in premature babies, females, and babies with certain diseases. Inguinal hernias occur more in males than females and premature babies. Congenital diaphragmatic hernia and hiatal hernia are the most common internal hernias (inside the body) in children. You can minimized the chance of having hernias by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of hernia?
Signs and symptoms depend on the types of hernias.
Symptoms of inguinal and umbilical hernias are painless swellings, which may go away on their own. They’re most obvious with crying, straining, coughing, or standing. Inguinal hernias in boys can make the scrotum (sac holding testicles) large. In girls, labia (tissue around the vagina) can swell.
Internal hernias may have no symptoms or may cause vomiting and heartburn.
Incarcerated hernias cause tender fi rm masses, pain, vomiting, constipation, and irritability.
Strangulated hernias lead to fever and swollen, red, infl amed, and very painful areas.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
Know the causes
What causes hernia?
Indirect inguinal hernias, present at birth, are caused by mistakes during development. Direct inguinal hernias form after birth. Umbilical hernias occur when the umbilical ring doesn’t close properly. In other hernias, membranes, wall muscles, or other structures don’t form correctly or are hurt, so they slowly weaken.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for hernia?
There are many risk factors for hernias, such as:
- Baby: premature babies and those with low birth weights. Black infants appear to have a slightly increased risk of umbilical hernias.
- obesity or sudden weight gain
- lifting heavy objects
- diarrhea or constipation
- persistent coughing or sneezing
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
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The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.]
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is hernia diagnosed?
The doctor uses the medical history and physical examination with the child lying down and standing. Blood tests or laparoscopy may be needed. Imaging studies in certain cases include X-rays and ultrasonography.
How is hernia treated?
Treatment is based on type of hernia. Umbilical hernias usually cause no discomfort, and most tend to close on their own by age 1 or 2. Doctors can often easily push them back in. Doctors usually suggest waiting and watching these hernias. Operations are needed only if hernias don’t heal by age 4 or 5, or if they become trapped or block the intestines. Surgery, often outpatient, is used for inguinal hernias to prevent incarceration.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage hernia?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with hernias:
- Watch your child’s hernia to make sure that it gets smaller in the fi rst 2 or 3 years of life.
- Give your child pain medicine that your doctor prescribes after surgery.
- Protect your child after surgery from respiratory infections that might cause coughing and sneezing. These could strain the stitches. Frequent hand washing is the best way to prevent these infections.
- Learn the symptoms of inguinal hernia incarceration. Delayed treatment can cause serious problems.
- Keep the incision clean and dry until it heals. You may need to limit your child’s activity for a while.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders/Elsevier, 2012. Print edition. Page 969.
Porter, R. S., Kaplan, J. L., Homeier, B. P., & Albert, R. K. (2009). The Merck manual home health handbook. Whitehouse Station, NJ, Merck Research Laboratories. Print edition. Page 1471.
Inguinal hernias. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/inguinal-hernia/basics/definition/con-20021456. Accessed July 9, 2016.
Hernias. http://kidshealth.org/teen/diseases_conditions/digestive/hernias.html. Accessed July 9, 2016.
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017