Digestive and Gastrointestinal Conditions

Inguinal Hernia Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of Inguinal Hernia

The main symptom of an inguinal hernia is a bulge or swelling that you can see under your child's skin. The bulge is near the crease between your child's belly and inner thigh. In boys, the swelling can extend down into the scrotum. In girls, it may extend to the labia.

Many children with a hernia seem to be comfortable and act normally. Other children are fussy or complain of pain with exercise. If the bulge comes on suddenly, your child may become cranky, cry out in pain or not want to eat.

With reducible types of hernias, the bulge comes and goes. The bulge may show up when your child coughs or cries. These actions create more pressure in your child's belly. When your child is relaxed or resting, the hernia may seem to hide (retract).

If bulging tissue is trapped (incarcerated), the bulge is present all the time. Your child will probably have pain. They may vomit, and the bulge may feel hard.

Inguinal Hernia Diagnosis

Your child's doctor will look for the hernia during a physical exam. Most hernias occur on the right side. But inguinal hernias can occur on the left side, or on both sides at the same time. The doctor will check both sides on your child.

Your child's doctor will examine your child's belly and the area between the belly and the inner leg. In boys, the doctor will most likely examine the scrotum to feel for a hernia.

The doctor will check to see if the bulge gets bigger when your child is crying, coughing or straining, or if it is present all the time. This can help you and your child's doctor decide on the timing of treatment.