What is an umbilical hernia?
Umbilical hernias will not go away naturally and need medical treatment to repair them. The only way to repair an umbilical hernia is through surgery.
Hernias develop when an internal part of the body pushes through a weak point of muscle or tissue. Most types of hernias develop in teens or adults. Umbilical hernias are more common in infants, and 20% of babies are born with one.
An umbilical hernia occurs near the belly button (umbilicus) when an intestinal loop pushes through the abdominal wall. They can look like an outie belly button. It’s estimated that about 10% of all abdominal hernias are umbilical hernias.
The main sign of an umbilical hernia is the appearance of a sac or pouch either in or around the belly button. In babies or infants, they usually don’t cause any pain. Adults may not feel any pain, but some do feel discomfort. Typically, umbilical hernias can get bigger when you:
- Use the toilet
The umbilical hernia usually shrinks again when you lie down or relax. The sac usually contains fat, intestine, or fluid inside.
Many babies who are born with umbilical hernias heal naturally within their first year of life. The hernia goes back in and the muscles seal, solving the problem with no medical intervention. In fact, 90% of children who are born with an umbilical hernia naturally heal by the time they are five years old.
Adults can also get these kinds of hernias. In adults, umbilical hernias can cause noticeable discomfort. The most common causes for umbilical hernias in adults include:
Unlike umbilical hernias in babies, these hernias will probably grow bigger and become more uncomfortable as time goes on. They will not go away naturally and need medical treatment to repair them.
If left untreated, umbilical hernias can get stuck, which causes them to be even more painful. When umbilical hernias are stuck, or “incarcerated”, they can cause nausea, vomiting, and can even prevent you from being able to pass gas.
A strangulated umbilical hernia occurs when part of the intestine is in the hernia pouch and loses blood supply. This can cause vomiting and even sharper pain.
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