A hydrocele problem is a condition that causes fluid build-up in the scrotum. This fluid accumulation occurs in the thin sheath of the scrotum surrounding the testicles. This leads to excessive swelling and discomfort.
Hydrocele is not always considered a serious health problem. However, it can be the cause of major embarrassment and discomfort along with other troubling symptoms.
Hydrocele problems do not always cause troubling symptoms. Some men may be bothered by hydrocele signs and symptoms while others may not feel anything at all.
The primary indication of hydrocele is a painless swelling in one or both the testicles. Common symptoms include:
- Heaviness due to swelling
- Gradual increase in pain due to increase in inflammation
- Smaller swelling in the morning that extends during the day
There are two types of hydroceles that vary in symptoms as well:
Communicating hydrocele – Communicating hydrocele is the one in which the hydrocele comes in contact with the fluids of the abdominal cavity. This is caused when the inguinal canal does not close leading to the risk of development of a hernia.
Non-communicating hydrocele – Non-communicating hydrocele is the one in which the inguinal canal closes leading to excessive fluid build-up. This type of hydrocele remains the same size or does not grow very fast.
Hydrocele causes are different in children and adults.
The hydrocele problem can develop before birth. In newborn males, the testicles descend from the abdominal cavity into the scrotum. The testicles are accompanied by a sac filled with fluids. Normally, both these sacs close up soon and the fluid is absorbed. However, in some cases, this fluid does not get absorbed as the sac does not close. The sac can eventually change in size and the fluid can flow back into the abdomen. Therefore, it is usually associated with inguinal hernia.
In older males
In adult males, hydrocele causes are usually associated with inflammation or injury. It can also be caused by an infection in the testicle.
Hydrocele causes can affect anyone. However, some men are more prone to the development of this disease than others. Common risk factors for hydrocele problems are:
- Premature birth
- Injury or inflammation of the scrotum
- Sexually transmitted infection (STI)
In babies, hydrocele problems are very common and may not require a different approach for diagnosis. Your healthcare provider will follow the given protocol below to help diagnose hydrocele problems.
First, your doctor will physically examine the scrotum. He/she will check the scrotum for tenderness. Your doctor will also apply pressure to the abdomen and scrotum to identify if there is an inguinal hernia. Your doctor will further shine a light through the scrotum to see if the scrotum has any fluid.
Your doctor will further perform the following tests:
- Blood test
- Urine test
- Ultrasound scan
The treatment of hydrocele is based on factors such as the age of the patient, the cause of the condition and its association with the hernia.
In baby boys, the hydrocele problem goes away on its own in some time and does not require specialized treatment. However, if the condition develops late in life, you should seek clinical intervention from a healthcare provider. In such cases, you may require surgical treatment for the removal of hydrocele. The surgery is followed by drainage of fluid and follow-up testing.