An umbilical hernia may seem like a mouthful, but it’s a condition that many people face. Essentially, it manifests when the belly button or navel protrudes due to a weakness in the surrounding abdominal muscles. While many people might dismiss this as a cosmetic issue, the underlying causes and potential complications can be significant.
Infants are particularly susceptible to this condition, primarily because their abdominal muscles are still developing. In most cases, these hernias close up on their own as the child grows. However, it’s not something exclusive to the young. Adults can also experience this condition, often due to increased abdominal pressure from activities like lifting heavy objects, prolonged coughing, or even pregnancy.
But what causes this bulge, and why does it matter? At its core, an umbilical hernia is a result of a small opening in the abdominal muscles. During fetal development, the umbilical cord passes through an opening in the baby’s abdominal muscles. This opening usually closes soon after birth, but sometimes, it doesn’t seal completely. When this happens, and there’s increased abdominal pressure, parts of the intestine or fatty tissue can poke through this weak spot, creating a hernia.
Now that we understand the genesis of an umbilical hernia, let’s delve into the primary focus of this article: the symptoms. Recognizing these signs early can aid in quicker diagnosis and treatment, potentially saving one from complications down the road.
Symptom 1: Visible Bulge near the Belly Button
The protrusion in the navel region is the most unmistakable sign of an umbilical hernia. This bulging phenomenon occurs when a part of the intestine or fatty tissue breaches the abdominal wall’s weak spot, pushing outwards. Often, this bump appears soft and might recede when lying down.
At times, this bulge is even more pronounced, especially during moments of increased abdominal pressure, like coughing, laughing, or heavy lifting. Its size varies between individuals and can range from small to large protrusions. Some might mistake it for an aesthetic concern, but it’s essential to recognize that it signifies a deeper health issue.
While many people notice this bulge only in certain conditions, for others, it remains consistently visible. It might feel squishy to touch, but what is concerning is the tissue trapped inside. If left untreated, complications can arise, especially if that tissue gets pinched or lacks an adequate blood supply. (1)