An umbilical hernia is when a portion of the intestine bulges through the abdominal wall near the belly button. While this type of hernia is most common in infants, it can affect adults as well.
What are the symptoms of an umbilical hernia?
A common sign of an umbilical hernia is a lump in or around the belly button, which may become more prominent when coughing, crying, laughing, lifting or straining.
In infants and children, the hernia usually isn’t painful—and sometimes goes unnoticed—but a common symptom for adults is abdominal discomfort.
Even if symptoms aren’t severe, it’s important to consult your doctor if you suspect an umbilical hernia. Seek medical attention immediately if you or your child are experiencing sharp pain, vomiting, constipation, discolored bulge or fever. This could be a sign that the hernia is strangulated, which would require immediate surgery.
What causes an umbilical hernia, and how is it treated?
Causes and treatment vary for infants and adults with umbilical hernias.
When an infant is born, sometimes the muscles don’t completely close around the small opening where the umbilical cord was in the abdomen. This is more common in premature babies. This opening is called an umbilical hernia, and it will usually close on its own by the time the child is 3 or 4 years old. If it doesn’t close on its own, it will need to be fixed surgically.
In adults, factors such as being overweight, straining while lifting something heavy, or having a deep cough may contribute to developing an umbilical hernia. Additionally, women who have carried more than one baby during a pregnancy (i.e., twins or triplets), are more susceptible to developing an umbilical hernia.
Like most hernias that develop in adults, an umbilical hernia will not heal on its own and will require hernia repair surgery.
If you think your child has an umbilical hernia—even if it doesn’t seem serious—don’t dismiss it. Talk to your child’s doctor as soon as possible and they can help you determine if further treatment is necessary.
Adults should also see medical attention for a suspected umbilical hernia. Your primary care provider can diagnose a hernia, and in most cases, your doctor will refer you to a general surgeon for an evaluation.
How do I decide which surgeon to see for my hernia repair?
You can minimize the risks of surgery by choosing a surgeon and medical care team that are thoroughly trained and experienced in hernia repairs. When considering surgeons, ask questions about their experience with the procedure, including the number of times they’ve performed it, and their record of successes, as well as complications.
About The Hernia Center of NGMC
At the Hernia Center of Northeast Georgia Medical Center, our surgeons are hernia specialists who are experienced and highly skilled in open, laparoscopic and robotic hernia repair. They will evaluate your case to determine which option is best for you. Each surgeon performs between 15 to 30 hernia surgeries a month. This means by choosing the Hernia Center of NGMC, you are getting hernia surgeons who are highly experienced and offer the highest quality surgical care possible. In fact, our hernia repair surgeons at the Hernia Center have been recognized by Surgical Review Corporation for their quality outcomes and expertise.