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Umbilical Hernia and How One Can Recover from It

An umbilical hernia occurs due to weakness in the abdominal muscles in and around the belly button. This type of hernia can appear regardless of the age and can cause the belly button to pop outwards.

Umbilical hernia is quite common in infants and can occur in adults as well. When an infant baby cries, one can notice the belly button popping out due to hernia – this is one of the signs of umbilical hernia.

In children, umbilical hernias close on their own within the first two years, but there are cases when they stay open till the fifth year or more than that. If this type of hernia surfaces in an adult, it has to be removed through surgery.

Symptoms of Umbilical Hernia

You can observe the umbilical hernia when the infant cries or makes an effort to cough or pass a stool .These activities increase the pressure in the abdomen, causing the bulge in the belly button. As they relax, they become impossible to spot. Mostly, they do not cause pain. Umbilical hernias in children are generally painless. Umbilical hernias that appear in the adulthood may cause abdominal discomfort.

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Causes of Umbilical Hernia?

The umbilical cord passes through the baby’s abdominal muscles via a tiny opening. This opening gets closed after birth. So, when the abdominal walls fail to join together in the midline of the abdominal muscles, an umbilical hernia can occur at the time of birth or later.

In the case of an adult, higher abdominal pressure can lead to umbilical hernias. The reasons behind this pressure can be,

● Multiple pregnancies

● Obesity

● Past abdominal surgery

● Peritoneal dialysis has taken for long term to treat kidney diseases or failure

● Fluid in the abdominal cavity

Risk factors of Umbilical Hernia

The possibility of Umbilical Hernia is the highest in infants. Premature births and low weight at birth increases its chances. Women with many pregnancies and high body weight suffer from hernia more often.

Are there any health complications?

In children, rarely does an umbilical hernia cause any complication. Complications can arise only when the protruding abdominal tissues get trapped and fail to push back into the abdominal cavity. This can result in reduced blood supply to certain parts of the intestine and tissue damage. The patient might feel abdominal pain.

In severe cases, where the trapped parts of the intestine get no blood supply at all, tissues can be damaged to death. The infection can spread in the abdominal cavity, leading to a life-threatening situation.

Blockage of intestines is seen more in adults as compared to children. Surgery is the standard solution to such complications.

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Treatment of Umblical Hernia

The initial stage of diagnosis includes an examination by the doctor over the affected area and CT scan if required. The doctor will check if he/she can manage to get the bulge back inside the abdomen.

In most cases, Umbilical hernia does not require treatment; it heals by itself when children reach 4-5 years of age. If not, it grows smaller on its own, making surgery easier.

Doctors suggest surgery only if it is larger than usual before children reach the age of 4-5.

They may also suggest surgery if this hernia is:

● Painful

● The large sized gap doesn’t grow smaller within 2 years of age

● It grows larger than 0.5 -0.75 inches

● Hernia gets stuck and traps the intestine

The surgery may take close to 45 minutes. Children receive a dose of anesthesia before surgery.

During the process, the surgeon cuts under the belly button and pushes back the intestine portion to their natural position. The hernias are then stitched by the surgeon. In the case of adults, surgeons are likely to use mesh in order to strengthen the abdominal walls.

Post-Surgery Care

Kids should not swim for up to 10 days and not play any sport for up to 3 weeks post-surgery. Also, visit the doctor after 2-4 weeks. In case your child displays the following conditions, contact your doctor immediately:

● Fever

● Swelling, reddening, or painful sensation

● A bulge in the navel region

● Vomiting, nausea, incurable constipation, or diarrhea

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are the causes of an umbilical hernia?

While the infant is in the mother’s womb, the umbilical cord stays connected through a small gap in the baby’s abdominal muscles. It usually closes after birth. However, when this does not happen, the umbilical hernia appears at some point in the infant’s life.

2. How serious is an umbilical hernia?

Umbilical hernia may require surgery in some cases. Complications happen only when the abdominal tissues get trapped and can’t push back into the abdominal cavity resulting in reduced blood supply in parts of the intestine. It can harm the tissues and the patient feels abdominal pain. In severe

cases, if the blood supply completely stops, the tissues can die and the infection can spread in the abdominal cavity creating a very serious condition for the patient.

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