How to Prevent an Umbilical Hernia?
Reducing an Umbilical Hernia
The term “hernia” is used to describe the bulging of internal organs from body walls. In most cases, a hernia involves part of the intestine that is protruding through the abdominal wall. This protrusion happens due to either inherent defect in the abdominal wall, or acquired weakness.
An umbilical hernia is when the intestine is bulging near the belly button. It is one of the three most common types of a hernia. The other two kind of hernias commonly found are inguinal (groins), and hernia of the epigastric region (upper abdomen).
A hernia is quite common among various age groups. It is frequently found in newborns, but in most cases do not require treatment and hernias heal by themselves. In adults, the prevalence of a hernia is much less, but they will not heal and would need surgical correction. Worse, the hernia may reoccur in many adults. At a younger age hernias are more common in females, but for adults, older men are at a higher risk.
It is worth noticing that pregnant women are also at higher risk of a hernia due to the weakening of the abdominal wall. Many women remain at higher risk of developing a hernia, even after giving birth to a child.
In men, obesity or involvement in physically demanding job increases the risk of a hernia. When a person lifts heavyweight, there is a sudden increase in abdominal pressure, which may lead to a weakening of the abdominal wall.
Hernia Facts and Causes
- Primarily caused due to the inborn defect of the abdominal wall
- They are common among newborn, though in the majority they heal themselves (on the contrary, adult hernias never heal by themselves)
- Conditions like pregnancy may weaken the abdominal wall, thus increasing its risk
- Certain diseases like a chronic cough may also increase the risk of a hernia
- Heavy lifting may also cause a hernia in some cases
- Chronic constipation may explain the higher prevalence of a hernia among old people
- Obesity also stretches and weakens abdominal wall, thus increasing the risk
Symptoms of an Umbilical Hernia
The most common symptom is a visible bulge or a lump near the umbilical region (belly button). When you touch the place, you can feel the difference. It may also change shape when you bend or lift something heavy. On coughing, you may notice typical movement at the place of lump.
A hernia is rarely painful. But still, it may cause discomfort at the affected area. Some people may develop a burning sensation at the place. Uneasiness may increase on coughing, lifting, gargling, and so on. Some individuals may develop acid reflux disease too.
In most cases, a hernia is not an emergency. A small hernia may not need any treatment. However, see a doctor if the following signs occur:
- Bulging area suddenly becomes painful
- Severe vomiting along with pain in the area of the lump
- If umbilical lump becomes warm, swell and changes skin color
- Bulging increased in recent times and you feel pain when you try to push the lump flat
How is Diagnosis Confirmed?
Not a tricky thing, physical examination by a physician is enough in most of the cases, if not in all the instances. The doctor may ask a person to cough or strain, as it would cause the bulge to get larger. In rare cases, the doctor may use imaging.
Two common imaging techniques used are x-ray or endoscopy. In some cases, the doctor may prefer to use ultrasound.
Preventing Umbilical Hernia
As acquired weakening of abdominal wall plays a role in hernia formation, taking care of the abdomen may reduce its risk. Thus to prevent a hernia:
- Exercise regularly, it would strengthen the abdominal wall. However, it is essential to follow the right technique. Weight training, if not done correctly may increase the risk of a hernia. Wearing abdominal belts while doing exercise may help strengthen the abdominal wall safely.
- Lifestyle and dietary changes to overcome obesity would help to strengthen abdomen thus reduce the risk of an umbilical hernia.
- Quite often hernia is the result or wrong lifting techniques. Thus, changing the way you lift heavy things may help. Using abdominal belts, if you have to lift heavy objects frequently may help too.
- Treat a chronic cough or bronchitis. However, in practice, it may not always be possible. For example, smoker’s may not give up smoking and thus continue to live with a cough for years. In such cases again using abdominal belts would reduce the risk of a hernia.
- In old adults, the abdominal strain caused during defecation when living with chronic constipation may increase the risk of a hernia. In such cases, improving bowel movement with the help of dietary changes or by using stool softeners may help.
In many cases, the person is not able to reduce the risk of a hernia. In such instances, a hernia may occur even after the treatment. So what to do to minimize the risk of hernia reoccurrence, or when a person cannot change his or her lifestyle to reduce the risk?
Along with all the precautions and steps, one crucial thing that a person can do to minimize the risk of occurrence or reoccurrence of a hernia is to use abdominal belts or braces all the time. Medical quality braces are quite comfortable to wear, and individuals get used to them in a very short time. Thus after some period the user would not even feel them. Moreover, these abdominal braces also have aesthetic value, as they help you look and feel good instantly.