What Is a Navel Hernia?


Quick Answer

According to WebMD, an navel hernia occurs when tissue, fluid or fat presses against a weak area on the abdomen, usually near or on the navel, causing it to protrude outwards. Also known as an umbilical hernia, this type of hernia is most common in infants but can also occur in adults.

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Full Answer

According to Medical News Today, umbilical hernias occur in about 10 percent of infants and are common in premature babies. In infants, this condition is caused by weak or underdeveloped abdominal muscles. The hernias are not painful and, since they generally resolve themselves as infants grow stronger and larger, surgery to correct umbilical hernias is not recommended for babies and toddlers.

WebMD states that umbilical hernias can also develop in adults as a result of extra pressure exerted against the abdominal wall. Some causes of internal abdominal pressure include obesity, chronic constipation, an oversized prostate gland, chronic coughing, pregnancy or fluid retention. Left untreated, an umbilical hernia can enlarge, especially if the underlying cause remains. Surgery is only needed if the hernia grows larger or if it starts to become painful.

Medical News Today warns that there is also a risk, in both children and adults, that the hernia may block the intestines or become incarcerated, or trapped. If this happens, surgery may be required to avoid infection, gangrene or damage to the intestines.

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