The standard definition of hernia is "rupture in smooth muscle tissue through which a bodily structure protrudes". In simple terms, the condition is characterized by the protrusion of a structure (could be an organ or a fatty tissue) through a weak spot in the muscle or tissue wall that is surrounding the protruding structure. Umbilical hernia is mostly associated with infants, but there are cases which include adults being affected by it, as well. This type of hernia occurs when a weak spot in the abdominal wall (stomach muscles) allows a part of the intestine to protrude through it. About 1 in 10 children, this problem surfaces; being more evident in cases of premature babies. The following tells you about the various causes of umbilical hernia, and this would be followed by a quick description on some common symptoms that may accompany the condition.
Factors Behind Umbilical Hernia
The umbilical cord, as you must be aware of, is a structure that connects a developing fetus to the placenta. The main purpose of this cord is to supply the growing baby with oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood from the mother's bloodstream to the baby's. Now whilst the mother is still pregnant, this very cord protrudes through the baby's abdominal muscles through a small opening. This protrusion forms a ring of muscle and other tissue, and is known as the umbilical ring. Now when the pregnancy nears its end stage, just before the baby is going to take birth, this ring closes naturally.
However, if the tissues fail to join back in the middle portion of the abdomen, it creates a weakness in the stomach muscles. And it is this weakness that eventually results in an umbilical hernia. This may occur at birth, or even later in life. Apart from this, conditions such as obesity, heavy lifting (which may be occupational or due to weightlifting), and chronic coughing are some factor which are diagnosed to be the common cause of belly button hernia in adults. In women, getting pregnant multiple times, and in both men and women, accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity are also included in the list of the causes of this condition.
How to Detect Umbilical Hernia?
The condition does not cause many symptoms, as its occurrence is itself a symptom. What may be noticed is a soft swelling or a small bulge under the skin of the navel (belly button/umbilicus). This bulge or swelling may be prominent only when the baby cries, cough or strains, and when he/she sits or stands upright. But the same does not stay visible when the baby is calm or in a state of rest. Most hernias of this type do not stay bigger than 1 inch in diameter. In children, the problem does not cause any trouble, but may be a cause of mild discomfort in adults.
No treatment is usually required for hernias that do not get bigger after age 1 and 2, disappear on their own by age 4, or do not get trap or cause intestinal blockage. However, otherwise, surgery may be recommended to correct the problem. In case of adults, it is better to go for a surgery to avoid complications.