Umbilical Hernia: Causes, Symptoms, Pictures and Treatments

Umbilical Hernia

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 A hernia arises when a spot in the muscles of the abdominal wall allows a segment of the intestine or abdominal tissue to protrude across. An umbilical hernia can be identified as a bulged-out section of the intestine via the gap in your abdominal muscles around your navel. These are relatively common and usually painless.

 In most cases, they are often seen in infants and healed after a certain period. However, surgery is a widely recommended option for patients with an umbilical hernia diagnosed in an adult. 

Disease Name

Umbilical Hernia
Alternative Name Belly Button Hernia

Discomfort, Nausea, Vomiting


Being overweight, having Frequent pregnancies, Multiple pregnancies, Heavy lifting


Physical examination, Ultrasound, CT scan, MRI scan, Blood tests,  An ECG test

Treated by

General Surgeon
Treatment options Laparoscopy, Open surgery

What is Umbilical Hernia?

An umbilical hernia is a kind of ventral hernia, i.e. that arises anywhere throughout the midline of the abdomen.

Umbilical Hernia Symptoms

Your doctor will look for the following signs for the identification of an umbilical hernia:

  1. Soft swelling around the navel
  2.  Discomfort in adults
  3.  Painless for infants or children
  4.  Nausea
  1. The following signs can indicate the severity of the disease in an infant starts causing pain even in infants
  2.  Vomiting
  3.  Bulge is tender, swollen, and discoloured

Umbilical Hernia Causes

The causes for the development of the umbilical hernia are different for both infants and adults.

Causes in infants:

  1. The umbilical cord stretches across a narrow gap in the infant's abdominal muscles during pregnancy. Typically, the hole fills shortly after delivery.
  2. An umbilical hernia can develop at birth or later in life if the muscles in the central abdominal wall do not connect entirely.

Causes in adults:

  1. Some fatty tissue or a segment of the colon can pop out via a weaker section of the abdominal muscle because there is too much strain on the abdominal wall. The strain can be caused by:
  2.  Being overweight
  3.  Frequent pregnancies
  4.  Multiple pregnancies
  5.  Family history
  6.  Fluid in the abdominal cavity
  7.  Past abdominal surgeries
  8.  Persistent heavy cough
  9.  Heavy lifting

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Umbilical Hernia Risk Factors

The risk factors for umbilical hernia can be listed as:

  1. Age: Infants are at higher risk of umbilical hernia. According to, 20% of infants are born with the disease, although it heals with time. However, adults can also get affected by this disease.
  2. Obesity: Individuals with higher Body mass index are more prone to umbilical hernia,
  3. Pregnancy: Frequent or multiple pregnancies increase the risk of umbilical hernia in women.
  4. Coughing: Persistent cough might cause strain on the abdomen leading to the disease.
  5. Abdominal surgery: An abdominal surgery in the past can increase the risk of an umbilical hernia.
  6. Family history

Umbilical Hernia Prevention

An Umbilical hernia can be prevented by:

  1.  Maintaining a healthy weight
  2.  Eating healthy food
  3.  Ensuring correct form while exercising with heavyweights.
  4.  Avoiding unnecessary strain on the abdomen
  5.  Quit smoking as it affects your lungs leading to cough
  6.  Consult a doctor as soon as you observe any symptoms.

Umbilical Hernia Diagnosis

The healthcare practitioner will examine your clinical record and several other aspects of your health. The examiner will look for signs of the condition by doing abdominal investigations such as:

  1. Physical examination: It aids in finding any noticeable bulge.
  2. Ultrasound, CT scan, MRI scan: These imaging tests aid in identifying blockage as well as the exact location of the disease.
  3. Blood tests: To check any infection led by intestinal blockage or necrosis.
  4. An ECG test is conducted for heart patients or patients aged 45 years and above.

How to prepare for a consultation

Before going to the doctor, you must pen down a few aspects you should talk about:

  1.  Ask your doctor about any changes in your diet and lifestyle.
  2.  Ask your doctor about the recovery period.
  3.  Ask your doctor about any possible side effects.
  4.  Ask your doctor about the severity of the disease.
  5.  Ask your doctor about the risks and complications of the disease.
  6.  Discuss the procedure that is best for you.
  7.  Discuss your medical history in detail.
  8.  Your doctor might ask you about your family history of a hernia.
  9.  Your doctor might ask you to get any diagnostic tests for identification.

Umbilical Hernia Treatment

However, infants disease is usually healed on its own before the age of five. A few cases might get severe and requires external aid. Your doctor will recommend surgery for your child if:

  1. The hernia is larger
  2.  It is very painful
  3.  Doesn't heal by the age of 5 years

Adults with this kind of hernia are often recommended to undergo surgery to reduce the risk of further complications.

  1.  The procedure takes 60-90 minutes, and an adult patient can be discharged on the same day. However, in the case of children, the doctor keeps them under observation overnight. 

The following are the methods of surgery that are advised by your doctor based on the size of the hernia, location of the hernia, and if it is a case of recurrence:


  1.  In this procedure, the surgeon utilizes a camera inserted via multiple tiny openings to fix the hernia.
  2.  Since the cut size is small, there are fewer chances of infection.
  3.  It is generally an outpatient procedure, i.e., you might get discharged the same day. 

Open surgery:

  1.  In this, the surgeon creates an incision next to your hernia, pulls the tissues firmly into alignment and sews the wound up.
  2.  You might feel pain after the procedure
  3.  You might not get discharged on the same day.

When to see a Doctor?

Hernia is a widespread problem and can be treated easily, but it should not be ignored. You should consult a doctor:

  1. If the abdominal pain increases suddenly
  2. If a hernia doesn't heal on its own
  3. If the size of the hernia increases
  4. If the colour of the hernia varies
  5. On repeated vomiting 
  6. If it is more significant than one-half inch in diameter
  7. If it becomes trapped or blocks the intestine
  8. If observed bleeding, swelling or inflammation on the wound site
  9. If there is no bowel movement after three days of the operation
Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational and learning purposes only. It doesn't cover every medical condition and might not be relevant to your personal situation. This information isn't medical advice, isn't meant for diagnosing any condition, and shouldn't replace talking to a certified medical or healthcare professional.


Dr. Hemant Kumar Khowal

Dr. Hemant Kumar Khowal

MBBS, MS General Surgery, Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery

13 Years Experience

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Kirti V

B.A. English | M.A. English ( Magadh University, Bihar)

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