Children can have inguinal hernias, which develop at the bottom of the abdominal wall where the abdomen meets the hip. The problem occurs when a weak muscle in this region allows abdominal or intestinal tissue to bulge. The condition is more often seen in premature infants. However, children may inherit this type of hernia. A testicle that does not descend or having cystic fibrosis also increases the risk of hernia development.
Inguinal Hernia Symptoms
The most obvious symptom of an inguinal hernia is a noticeable bulge or lump in the groin, genital area or lower abdomen when the child stands. The bulge typically disappears when the youngster is in a lying position. The lumps become more pronounced when children, cough, cry or are attempting to have a bowel movement. Inguinal hernias usually do not cause physical discomfort.
If parents suspect that their child has an inguinal hernia, the child should see a physician. Your health care provider will examine the lower abdominal region for telltale signs. The physician may try to reduce the protrusion by applying firm pressure to the bulge, which typically moves the tissue back into the abdominal cavity. Physicians may recommend that the child undergo imaging studies to rule out possible blood flow obstructions, intestinal blockages or intestinal damage.
Managing the Problem
Make sure the child drinks plenty of liquids and eats high fiber foods. Otherwise, constipation puts undue stress on the weakened site. Do not attempt to bind the area, as this intervention may cause more harm. If recommended by a physician, the child may take OTC anti-inflammatory, analgesic medications for fever or pain.
Inguinal Hernia Treatment
In time, the problem might resolve itself without further medical intervention. If the abdominal muscle does not heal, the child may need surgery to correct the weakened area. Emergency surgery is necessary when the child can no longer have bowel movements or when images indicate a blockage or intestinal damage.