What You Need to Know About Umbilical Hernias
What Is Umbilical Hernia?
An umbilical hernia is a condition in which a small portion of the intestines protrudes through an opening where a group of muscles are located in the abdominal region. The intestines are cushioned by a sac of fatty tissue, called the omentum, and this sac may also protrude through the opening.
Many umbilical hernias close on their own during the first year of life. However, some umbilical hernias remain open into adulthood. However, some may need to be repaired surgically. They are usually not painful and do not cause any other symptoms.
What Causes Umbilical Hernia to Develop?
There are several reasons why an umbilical hernia may develop. An umbilical hernia may develop when there is a weak spot in the abdominal wall near the umbilicus (belly button). Umbilical hernias are relatively common, and most people are born with them.
Umbilical hernias are more common in women than in men. They are also more common in African Americans than in other groups. Umbilical hernias can happen at any age, but they are more common in middle-aged or elderly adults. Some of the factors which contribute to the development of an umbilical hernia include:
• Chronic coughing
• Straining during bowel movements.
What is the Diagnosis of Umbilical Hernia?
The diagnosis of an umbilical hernia is typically made during a physical examination. Your doctor will likely be able to see the bulge when they gently press on your abdomen. An ultrasound or CT scan may also be ordered to confirm the diagnosis. In other instances, this bulge may be visible when someone coughs, or strains.
In some cases, the hernia may be small and not visible. The provider will check to see if the hernia can be pushed back to the abdominal region during the examination. The provider will also gather information about your medical history to see if the umbilical hernia has become incarcerated, which is a serious condition where the protruding intestine becomes trapped and doesn’t have access to blood.
Most umbilical hernias do not cause any symptoms. However, if the hernia is large, it can cause pain or discomfort, especially when coughing, laughing, or straining. The pain is usually not severe. If the hernia becomes strangulated, meaning the blood supply to the protruding tissue is cut off, it can be very painful and may require emergency surgery.
If the intestine is not repaired, it can die quickly, which requires surgery to remove the affected part of the intestine.
When to Seek Medical Care
You should seek medical attention if you have a hernia in the navel area and:
• You begin to vomit
• You suffer from pain
• You have swells or has discoloration at the hernia in the navel area
You should consult with a doctor when you have a bulge or noticeable swelling near your navel. Seek medical attention when the bulge starts to be painful or tender. Early diagnosis and treatment of your condition can help prevent any further complications.
Treatment of Umbilical Hernia
Treatment for an umbilical hernia is typically not necessary unless the hernia is large or causing pain. If a hernia is not resolved at an early stage, surgery may be recommended to repair the hernia. If the hernia is strangulated and cannot be pushed or massaged back into its proper place, the surgeon will recommend surgery.
If surgery is required, the surgeon will make an incision in the abdominal muscles and push the protruding intestines back into place. The opening in the muscles will then be closed with stitches or surgical tape. A piece of mesh material can help to reinforce the area where muscles are repaired.
Umbilical hernia surgery is a fairly simple procedure that can be performed in a hospital or outpatient setting. Most people recover from surgery without any complications. The procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes and the patient can go home the same day.
However, there is a small risk of hernia recurrence after surgery.
Umbilical hernias are relatively common and most do not require treatment. However, if you are experiencing pain or the hernia is large, surgery may be necessary.
Umbilical Hernias Risk Factors
Hernias that occur in the navel area affect both males and females but it is more common in women. If you are an adult who is overweight or who has had multiple pregnancies, you may be at increased risk for developing an umbilical hernia.
Effects caused by Umbilical Hernia
Umbilical hernias are relatively common in adults, and most are benign and asymptomatic. However, in some cases, they can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and difficulty urinating. If the hernia becomes strangulated, it can cause severe pain and inflammation. If not treated promptly, a strangulated hernia can lead to gangrene and death.
Complications can happen when the stomach tissue sticks out and gets caught and cannot be pushed back into the abdominal cavity. It cuts off the supply of blood to the part of the intestine that’s trapped, which can cause abdominal pain and damage to tissue.
When the intestine is cut off from the blood supply, it can cause the death of tissue. Infections can potentially spread to different areas in the abdomen, which can be very serious and can cause death. Adults with hernias occurring in the navel area are more likely to have their intestines blocked. Surgery is typically needed to treat these complications when they occur.