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Umbilical Hernia: Care Instructions

An umbilical hernia next to the belly button


An umbilical hernia is a bulge near the belly button, or navel. Intestines or other tissues may bulge through an opening or a weak spot in the stomach muscles. The hernia has a sac that may hold some intestine, fat, or fluid. Many umbilical hernias are caused by pressure near the belly button. Pressure may come from increased weight, repeated straining, or pregnancy.

A very small hernia may not cause problems. But your doctor may recommend repairing the muscle. This helps you avoid the risk that the hernia might trap some of the tissues or intestine. This could be an emergency.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Watch for any signs that the hernia may be causing problems. Your belly may get bigger, and the skin over the hernia may look red. You may have pain or feel bulging or pressure from the hernia. Call your doctor or nurse advice line right away if you see these signs.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse belly pain.
  • You vomit.
  • You cannot pass stool or gas.
  • You can't push the hernia back into place with gentle pressure when you are lying down.
  • The area over the hernia turns red or becomes tender.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.