First published: 7 October 2022 @ 6:00 pm
Hernias in children can be painful, embarrassing and frustrating. If your child has a hernia, there are many things that you can do to relieve the pain and discomfort.
However, it is very important to seek medical attention if your child’s condition does not improve after a few days or weeks of treatment.
Even after that, it‘s better to continue with follow-up appointments with a hernia specialist to check the progress.
What is a Hernia?
A hernia occurs when the tissues of the abdomen push through the weakened muscles and skin of the abdominal wall.
There are two types of hernias: internal (involving an organ) and external (outside the abdomen).
Umbilical hernia, for example, occurs when the intestines push through the weakened muscles of the abdominal wall, around the umbilical cord.
The umbilical hernia may occur at the navel or just below it.
A surgical repair is an operation to close a hernia. The surgeon makes a small incision in the skin and sutures the edges together.
The sutures usually dissolve in a few weeks, leaving a small scar.
What Causes Hernia?
The cause of a hernia is not completely understood. Hernias are thought to occur when the abdominal wall muscles that surround organs weaken and stretch.
In the abdominal wall, there are layers of muscles that are connected to each other by tissue called fascia.
When the abdominal wall muscles weaken and stretch, they may pull on organs that are below them.
These weakened muscles and stretched tissues can then cause a hernia to form.
Inguinal hernia repair surgery is commonly done to correct a hernia that has occurred through an opening in the groin, such as a femoral hernia.
Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.
Symptoms of Hernia
Hernia symptoms can vary from person to person depending on their location within their body.
If your baby boys or girls has one or more of the following signs, it is highly recommended that you visit your doctor to have them checked out.
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of weight
- Pulling on the belly button area
- Difficulty moving their abdomen area around (i.e., if your baby boy has a hernia in his groin area, he may have difficulty lifting his legs)
- Blood or discharge from the belly button area (i.e., a bulging of the abdominal wall that could lead to infection or internal bleeding)
If your children have any of these symptoms, it is highly recommended that you have your children checked out by a doctor as soon as possible.
How Is Hernia Diagnosed?
Most hernias are easy to see by feeling for a bulge that can be felt through your child’s skin or by noticing an abnormally swollen area of their abdomen.
Severe pain in your child’s abdomen is another indicator of a hernia.
Hernias are most commonly found during routine physical exams, but if you think your child may have one, call your doctor immediately.
Your doctor may need to take x-rays or perform other imaging tests in order to diagnose your child with a hernia.
If the diagnosis is unclear, your doctor may refer you to a specialist who specializes in pediatric hernias.
What Can You Do
If your child’s condition does not improve after a few days or weeks of treatment, then you should seek medical care.
There are many ways to treat hernias. For example:
1. Surgical Hernia Repair
Emergency surgery is the most common method of repairing a hernia. The doctor may do this through an open or laparoscopic (keyhole) procedure.
An open procedure is done through a large incision in the belly. During this procedure, the doctor inserts a surgical mesh through the incision and into the hernia sac.
This closes the opening between the two organs that were bulging through it.
A laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery is done through small incisions in the belly.
During this procedure, the doctor inserts surgical mesh into the hernia sac through small incisions on either side of your child’s belly button.
This closes the opening between your child’s abdominal organs and his skin and muscle tissues.
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.
2. Drugs for Pain Relief
If your children continue with their normal activities and their symptoms do not improve after a few weeks, they may experience mild pain.
They may benefit from taking some over-the-counter pain medication such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
These medications include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve).
If your child is prescribed a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug to treat arthritis or other health problems, ask your child’s doctor whether you can give it to him for hernias.
3. Natural Reliefs for Hernia Pain
If painkillers are not an option, you can use a hot or cold pack to treat hernia pain.
A hot pack can be used for about 20 minutes. After that, place it on the hernia for about 10 minutes before replacing it with a cold pack.
Other natural treatment options include aloe vera juice, gingerroot, black peppers, and many others. Losing weight and changing diet can also help your child to feel better.
Also, if you have the means, consult with a doctor to determine the best treatment plan for your child.
We recommend that you first treat hernia pain and then see a doctor. Hernias are very painful and can lead to many complications if not properly treated.
Treat Your Children’s Medical Conditions
The symptoms of hernias in children can be painful, embarrassing and frustrating.
A child may have one or multiple hernias, so it’s important to seek medical help immediately if you suspect a problem.
Kids who have a hernia in the groin area may not take part in sports, and they may experience pain when sitting or lying down.
In rare cases, hernias can develop in the belly button, and children may not pass gas or stool. If you’re concerned that your child has a hernia, see your doctor right away.
Our blog, Mature Parent, covers more ways to cope with hernias and other medical conditions, including anxiety, pain and depression. Check it out to learn more!