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Umbilical Hernia

What is umbilical hernia?

An umbilical hernia occurs when abdominal tissue protrudes through a weak area in the abdominal wall near the belly button. This can result in a visible bulge or lump at the umbilicus, which may become more prominent during activities that increase abdominal pressure, such as coughing, straining, or lifting heavy objects.

What causes umbilical hernia?

Umbilical hernias can develop due to various factors that weaken the abdominal wall muscles, including:

  • Congenital predisposition: Some individuals are born with a weakness in the abdominal wall near the umbilicus, making them more prone to developing hernias.

  • Pregnancy: The increased abdominal pressure during pregnancy can weaken the abdominal muscles and contribute to the development of hernias, particularly in women who have had multiple pregnancies or large babies.

  • Obesity: Excess body weight can strain the abdominal muscles and increase the risk of hernias.

  • Chronic coughing or straining: Conditions such as chronic coughing, constipation, or urinary retention can increase abdominal pressure and predispose individuals to hernias.

What are the symptoms of umbilical hernia?

Symptoms of umbilical hernia can vary depending on the size and severity of the hernia, but common symptoms may include:

  • A visible bulge or lump near the belly button, which may be more noticeable when standing, coughing, or straining

  • Discomfort or pain at the site of the hernia, particularly when bending over, coughing, or lifting heavy objects

  • Redness, tenderness, or swelling around the umbilicus

  • Nausea or vomiting if the hernia becomes incarcerated or strangulated (emergency situation)

How to treat umbilical hernia?

Treatment for umbilical hernia may involve observation, lifestyle modifications, or surgical intervention, depending on the size, symptoms, and individual circumstances.


Treatment options may include:

  • Watchful waiting: Small, asymptomatic umbilical hernias may be monitored over time with regular check-ups to assess for any changes or progression.

  • Lifestyle modifications: Avoiding heavy lifting, straining during bowel movements, or activities that increase abdominal pressure may help prevent hernias from worsening.

  • Surgery: Surgical repair is often recommended for symptomatic or large umbilical hernias to prevent complications such as incarceration or strangulation. Surgery typically involves pushing the herniated tissue back into place and strengthening the abdominal wall with stitches or mesh.

Treatment decisions should be made in consultation with a healthcare provider, preferably a paediatric general surgeon, who can evaluate the specific circumstances of the hernia and recommend the most appropriate management approach.

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