Breathe Easy: Understanding the Link Between Umbilical Hernias and Shortness of Breath


Umbilical Hernias

An umbilical hernia is a medical condition that occurs when part of the intestine protrudes through the abdominal wall near the belly button (umbilicus). While it can affect people of any age, it’s more commonly seen in infants and in adults who are overweight or have had multiple pregnancies. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for umbilical hernias.


Umbilical hernias typically develop when there’s a weak spot in the abdominal wall muscles. This weakness can be present from birth or may develop over time due to factors such as:

  1. Congenital Factors: Some babies are born with a weakness in their abdominal wall, making them more prone to umbilical hernias.
  2. Increased Abdominal Pressure: Conditions that increase pressure within the abdomen, such as obesity, pregnancy, heavy lifting, or chronic coughing, can strain the abdominal muscles and contribute to the development of hernias.
  3. Age: In adults, weakening of the abdominal muscles due to aging can also make them susceptible to umbilical hernias.


The most common symptom of an umbilical hernia is a noticeable bulge or swelling near the belly button. This bulge may become more prominent when coughing, straining during bowel movements, or lifting heavy objects. Other symptoms may include:

  1. Pain or Discomfort: Some individuals may experience pain or discomfort at the site of the hernia, especially if the protruding tissue becomes trapped (incarcerated) or twisted (strangulated).
  2. Nausea and Vomiting: If the hernia becomes incarcerated or strangulated, it can obstruct the intestines, leading to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and abdominal distension.
  3. Changes in Appearance: In infants, the umbilical hernia may appear more pronounced when crying or straining but may disappear when they’re relaxed or lying down.


The management of umbilical hernias depends on various factors, including the size of the hernia, the severity of symptoms, and the individual’s overall health. Treatment options may include:

  1. Watchful Waiting: In many cases, especially with infants and small hernias in adults, observation may be recommended. The hernia may close on its own as the child grows or as the individual loses weight.
  2. Hernia Truss: A hernia truss is a supportive device worn over the hernia to keep it in place. While it can provide temporary relief, it’s not considered a long-term solution and may not be suitable for all individuals.
  3. Surgery: If the hernia is large, causing symptoms, or at risk of complications (such as incarceration or strangulation), surgical repair may be recommended. During the procedure, the protruding tissue is pushed back into place, and the abdominal wall is strengthened with stitches or a mesh patch.

Umbilical hernias are common and typically not life-threatening, but they can cause discomfort and complications if left untreated. If you or your child have symptoms of an umbilical hernia, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and management. Early intervention can help prevent potential complications and improve the overall quality of life.

As with any medical condition, individual experiences may vary, and treatment decisions should be made in consultation with a qualified healthcare provider.

Does umbilical hernia affect pregnancy?

Umbilical hernias can indeed affect pregnancy, though the extent of the impact varies from person to person. Here’s how:

  1. Increased Pressure: During pregnancy, the growing uterus puts pressure on the abdomen, including the area around the umbilicus (belly button). This increased pressure can exacerbate an existing umbilical hernia or even cause one to develop.
  2. Risk of Complications: While many umbilical hernias are relatively harmless and may not cause significant issues during pregnancy, there is a risk of complications. These can include pain, discomfort, and in severe cases, incarceration or strangulation of the hernia contents. If the blood supply to the herniated tissue becomes compromised, it can become a medical emergency requiring immediate attention.
  3. Delivery Concerns: In some cases, an umbilical hernia might affect the mode of delivery. If the hernia is large or causing complications, your healthcare provider might recommend a cesarean section to avoid putting undue stress on the herniated area during vaginal delivery.
  4. Postpartum Management: After giving birth, the umbilical hernia might persist or worsen due to the strain of childbirth. While some hernias resolve on their own, others may require surgical intervention, particularly if they are causing symptoms or complications.
  5. Monitoring and Management: If you have a known umbilical hernia and you’re planning to become pregnant or are already pregnant, it’s essential to discuss this with your healthcare provider. They can monitor the hernia throughout your pregnancy and provide guidance on managing any symptoms or complications that arise.

In conclusion, while an umbilical hernia can affect pregnancy, the impact varies depending on individual circumstances. It’s crucial to maintain open communication with your healthcare provider to ensure proper monitoring and management throughout your pregnancy journey.

Know can umbilical hernia cause shortness of breath

In general, an umbilical hernia itself is unlikely to directly cause shortness of breath. However, there are scenarios where complications from an umbilical hernia or associated conditions could lead to shortness of breath. Here are a few potential ways:

  1. Large Hernia: A very large umbilical hernia can cause significant abdominal distention and discomfort. In rare cases, if the herniated tissue presses up against the diaphragm (the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen), it might interfere with its movement and lead to a sensation of breathlessness.
  2. Strangulation or Incarceration: If a portion of intestine or other abdominal contents becomes trapped (strangulated or incarcerated) within the hernia sac, it can lead to obstruction of blood flow and potential tissue damage. In severe cases, this can cause symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and even shortness of breath due to the body’s stress response to the injury.
  3. Associated Conditions: Sometimes, individuals with umbilical hernias may have other medical conditions such as obesity, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or heart conditions that can independently cause shortness of breath. While the hernia itself may not directly cause this symptom, the combination of factors might contribute to breathing difficulties.
  4. Anxiety and Discomfort: Severe discomfort or anxiety related to the presence of an umbilical hernia can sometimes manifest as shortness of breath due to the body’s stress response.

It’s essential to consult a healthcare provider if you’re experiencing shortness of breath or any concerning symptoms, especially if you have an umbilical hernia or suspect you might have one. They can evaluate your condition thoroughly to determine the underlying cause and provide appropriate management or treatment.

Weight gain and umbilical hernia

An umbilical hernia itself does not directly cause weight gain. However, there are several indirect ways in which an umbilical hernia might be associated with weight gain:

  1. Decreased Physical Activity: In some cases, individuals with umbilical hernias might experience discomfort or pain, particularly during physical activity. This discomfort can lead to a reduction in exercise or physical movement, which can contribute to weight gain over time.
  2. Changes in Lifestyle: The presence of an umbilical hernia or the fear of exacerbating it might lead to changes in lifestyle habits, such as dietary choices or activity levels. For example, someone might become more sedentary or make dietary choices aimed at avoiding exacerbating the hernia, which could potentially contribute to weight gain.
  3. Fluid Retention: In rare cases, particularly if the hernia is large and causing complications such as intestinal obstruction or strangulation, fluid retention and swelling in the abdomen might occur. While this isn’t weight gain in the form of increased body fat, it can lead to a temporary increase in body weight.
  4. Psychological Factors: Dealing with a health condition like an umbilical hernia can sometimes lead to emotional or psychological stress, which might in turn influence eating habits and potentially contribute to weight gain.

It’s essential to note that while an umbilical hernia might be associated with weight gain indirectly through these mechanisms, the hernia itself does not directly cause weight gain. If you’re experiencing weight gain or have concerns about your weight in relation to an umbilical hernia, it’s crucial to discuss these concerns with your healthcare provider. They can provide guidance on managing both the hernia and any associated weight-related issues.

How to cure umbilical hernia

The only way to cure an umbilical hernia is through surgical intervention. While there are non-surgical methods to permanently resolve an umbilical hernia, there are certain measures that can be taken to manage the condition and alleviate symptoms. Here’s an overview:

  1. Watchful Waiting: Small, asymptomatic umbilical hernias may not require immediate surgical treatment. In some cases, especially if the hernia is small and not causing any symptoms, a “watchful waiting” approach may be recommended. Your healthcare provider will monitor the hernia periodically to ensure it doesn’t worsen or cause complications.
  2. Lifestyle Changes: Making certain lifestyle adjustments can help manage symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. These changes may include maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding heavy lifting or straining activities that can increase intra-abdominal pressure, and adopting proper body mechanics to minimize strain on the abdominal muscles.
  3. Supportive Measures: Wearing a supportive abdominal binder or truss may help alleviate discomfort associated with the hernia, particularly during physical activity. However, it’s important to use these devices under the guidance of a healthcare provider, as improper use can potentially worsen the hernia or lead to complications.
  4. Surgical Repair: Surgical repair is the definitive treatment for umbilical hernias, especially if they are symptomatic, enlarging, or causing complications such as strangulation or obstruction of bowel contents. The surgical procedure typically involves pushing the protruding tissue back into place and repairing the weakened abdominal wall muscles with stitches or a mesh patch to prevent recurrence.
  5. Minimally Invasive Techniques: Many umbilical hernia repairs can be performed using minimally invasive techniques such as laparoscopy or robotic-assisted surgery. These approaches offer smaller incisions, shorter recovery times, and reduced risk of complications compared to traditional open surgery.

If you suspect you have an umbilical hernia or if you’ve been diagnosed with one, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate course of action based on your individual circumstances. They can provide personalized recommendations and guidance on managing the condition effectively.

Know more about umbilical of infants

Typically arises a question, are umbilical hernias painful for infants? Umbilical hernias in infants are typically not painful. In fact, they are quite common and usually harmless. Here’s why:

  1. Physiological Umbilical Hernias: Many newborns have a small umbilical hernia, which occurs when the abdominal muscles around the belly button haven’t fully closed. This can cause a small bulge or protrusion at the belly button. These hernias are usually painless and typically resolve on their own as the abdominal muscles continue to develop and strengthen during the infant’s first few years of life.
  2. Non-complicated Nature: Most umbilical hernias in infants are non-complicated, meaning that the herniated tissue can easily be pushed back into the abdomen without any adverse effects. As a result, they typically do not cause pain or discomfort for the infant.
  3. Absence of Incarceration or Strangulation: In uncomplicated umbilical hernias, there is no risk of incarceration or strangulation of the herniated tissue. This means that the tissue is not trapped or compromised in a way that would cause pain or other symptoms.
  4. Observation and Monitoring: Pediatricians often recommend monitoring umbilical hernias in infants during routine check-ups. They will assess the size of the hernia, its characteristics, and whether it changes over time. In most cases, pediatricians will reassure parents that the hernia will likely resolve on its own without the need for intervention.

However, if an umbilical hernia in an infant becomes tender, swollen, discolored, or if there’s vomiting or other signs of distress, it’s essential to seek medical attention promptly. These could be signs of complications such as incarceration or strangulation, which require immediate evaluation and treatment by a healthcare provider.

Overall, while umbilical hernias in infants are generally not painful or concerning, it’s important for parents to stay vigilant and seek medical advice if they have any concerns about their child’s health or well-being.


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