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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
What is an umbilical hernia?
An umbilical hernia is a bulge through the abdominal wall near your umbilicus (belly button). The hernia may contain tissue from the abdomen, part of an organ (such as the intestine), or fluid.
What increases my risk for an umbilical hernia?
Umbilical hernias usually happen because of a hole or weak area in your abdominal muscles. Umbilical hernias happen more often in women than in men. The following may increase your risk for an umbilical hernia:
- Being overweight
- Age older than 60
- Fluid in your abdomen (ascites)
- A large growth in your abdomen
- Pregnancy, especially more than 1 pregnancy
- Chronic constipation or straining to have bowel movements
- Repeated coughing caused by lung disease such as COPD
What are the signs and symptoms of an umbilical hernia?
Umbilical hernias usually do not cause any pain. Your hernia may disappear when you lay flat. You may have any of the following:
- A bulge or swelling in or near your belly button
- A bulge that gets bigger when you cough, strain to have a bowel movement, or sit up
- Nausea or vomiting
How is an umbilical hernia diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will usually find the hernia during an exam. You may need an ultrasound or x-ray. These tests may show if tissue, fluid, or an organ is trapped inside the hernia. The tests will also help your provider plan your treatment.
How is an umbilical hernia treated?
Your hernia may go away without treatment. Your healthcare provider may be able to reduce your hernia. He or she will put firm, steady pressure on your hernia until it disappears behind the abdominal wall. You may need surgery to fix the hernia if it cannot be reduced. Surgery will also be needed if your intestines or other organ get trapped inside the hernia. This can stop blood flow to the organ and become an emergency.
How can I manage my umbilical hernia?
- Drink more liquids. Liquids may prevent constipation and straining during a bowel movement. This can prevent your hernia from getting bigger. Ask how much liquid you should drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
- Eat high-fiber foods. Fiber may prevent constipation and straining during a bowel movement. This can prevent your hernia from getting bigger. Foods that contain fiber include fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
- Avoid heavy lifting. Heavy lifting can put pressure on your hernia and make it bigger. Ask your healthcare provider how much is safe to lift.
- Do not place anything over your umbilical hernia. Do not place tape or a coin over the hernia. This treatment does not help treat a hernia.
When should I seek immediate care?
- Your hernia gets bigger, feels firm, or turns blue or purple.
- You have severe abdominal pain with nausea or vomiting.
- You stop having bowel movements and passing gas.
- You have blood in your bowel movement.
When should I contact my healthcare provider?
- You have a fever.
- You have nausea or are vomiting.
- You are constipated.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.
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