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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
An umbilical hernia is a bulge through the abdominal muscles in the area of the navel (belly button). The hernia may contain tissue from the abdomen, part of an organ (such as the intestine), or fluid. Umbilical hernias usually happen because of a hole or a weak area in the muscles of the abdominal wall.
- Ibuprofen or acetaminophen: These medicines decrease pain. They are available without a doctor's order. Ask your healthcare provider which medicine is right for you. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. These medicines can cause stomach bleeding if not taken correctly. Ibuprofen can cause kidney damage. Do not take ibuprofen if you have kidney disease, an ulcer, or allergies to aspirin. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage. Do not drink alcohol if you take acetaminophen.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
- Activity: Avoid lifting, bending, and straining. Try not to stand for long periods of time. If you have to cough, try to cough gently. Support the hernia by holding your hand or a pillow over it when coughing. Ask your healthcare provider if it is okay for you to have sexual intercourse.
- Prevent constipation: Straining to have a bowel movement may make your hernia worse. Eat foods that are high in fiber and drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. A high-fiber diet includes whole grains, bran, cereals, and uncooked fruit and vegetables. Walking or other exercise can also help. Your healthcare provider may give you fiber medicine or a stool softener to help make your bowel movements softer and more regular. Do not use an enema or a laxative unless your healthcare provider says it is okay.
- What to wear: Do not wear anything tight over your hernia. Ask your healthcare provider if you should wear support belt or girdle to keep the hernia in place.
- Ask your healthcare provider how to reduce your hernia: Sometimes your hernia will slip back into your abdomen if you lie flat for a while. Ask your healthcare provider if you should try to gently push your hernia back into place if lying flat does not work. If your hernia does not slide back into your abdomen easily, stop pushing on it and call your healthcare provider. Do not try to push the hernia back into place if it is painful or tender.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have nausea or vomiting.
- You cannot gently push your hernia back into your abdomen. (Do this only if your healthcare provider has shown you how to do it.)
- You are constipated or have blood in your bowel movements.
- Your hernia is getting bigger.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have a fever.
- Your hernia is stuck outside your abdomen and is painful, swollen, or feels hard.
- You completely stop having bowel movements and stop passing gas.
- Your abdominal pain is bad or getting worse.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.