A lot of the time, many of us do not give any thought or attention to our belly button, except when one form of pain or the other forces us to think about the place. As a matter of fact, some of us get our belly buttons pierced and once in a while, all of us scrub out any lint that’s hanging around in there. But that’s about it.
This usually goes on till we have a weird case of belly button pain. While the pain can come and go, and not really mean much, sometimes, it’s a sign that somethings really (really) wrong.
So if you have a throbbing pain in your belly button, what should you do? Your first port of call should be your doctor to help decide if it is something to worry about or not.
It is also important for you to keep an eye out for other symptoms such as a fever, blood in your stool, inability to keep food down and not urinating. See a doctor immediately if you have any of this.
Meanwhile, more benign causes might not warrant anything more than an antacid or a change in diet. If you’re wondering what is causing your belly button pain, here are, five potential causes—and how to deal with each.
This is an inflammatory bowel disease that usually affects the small intestine and/or colon. Crohn’s disease can cause pain behind the belly button that feels like anything from a dull ache to a sharp, cramping pain that typically occurs 20 to 30 minutes after eating.
The pain can be accompanied with severe diarrhea, fatigue, and weight loss. The cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, but a malfunctioning immune system and a family history may likely play a role.
Complications from Crohn’s disease can include malnutrition, ulcers, and bowel obstruction. Treatment may involve diet chamge, anti-inflammatory drugs, immune-system suppressors, antibiotics, or vitamin supplements, or surgery if all of the above fails to work.
When a baby is born, the midwife cuts the umbilical cord—the tube that feeds the baby during pregnancy—and the surrounding muscles heal. Sometimes, however, those abdominal muscles don’t quite close all the way.
When intestines or fatty tissue push through this opening, it creates a large bulge at the belly button known as an umbilical hernia. Umbilical hernias happen in about one in five newborns, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, with 90 percent healing by the time a person is 5 years old.
For the other 10 percent of people however, it affects more females than males. Usually with an umbilical hernia the umbilicus is bigger than usual. There’s tissue or a membrane you can feel coming out that’s soft and doesn’t feel like the surrounding skin, and you can push it back in.
It’s possible to live with an umbilical hernia your whole life without any problems. However sometimes protruding tissue can become trapped and deprived of blood supply, a condition known as a strangulated umbilical hernia.
Once it becomes painful, it can mean it’s squeezing on your omentum stomach or bowel. If blood supply is cut off, tissue can die and potentially lead to life-threatening infection. It may however be surgically removed.
While gas, is typically felt more in the upper abdomen all the way up to the shoulders, indigestion is most often felt above the belly button. However, the food you eat can also cause discomfort and pain anywhere in your abdomen, as well as a full or nauseous feeling that lasts a few hours.
Fatty foods, fried foods, and spicy foods are the most common triggers of indigestion. Any food with fat in it takes longer to digest, so it sits in the stomach for longer periods.
To combat indigestion, it is best to skip fatty foods, stop eating slowly, chewing food completely, and avoiding exercise right after a meal. Antacids can help relieve temporary discomfort, but let your doctor know if your symptoms last longer than a few days.
The appendix is a teeny organ located where the big and small intestines meet. Inflammation of the appendix is appendicitis and the first symptom is often pain around the belly button.
Appendicitis usually starts as more of a severe pain in the middle of the stomach. Within hours it makes its way to the right lower quadrant of the abdomen.
Doctors don’t know what causes appendicitis, but it’s most common in people between the ages of 15 and 30, tends to run in families and it requires immediate medical attention. If your appendix ruptures—which can occur within 48 to 72 hours after symptoms start—the resulting infection can be life-threatening.
Gallstones occur when small, hard deposits that are usually made of cholesterol build up in the gallbladder—the organ that holds digestive juice known as bile. You may develop just one gallstone, or you may develop many, and they can range in size. Gallstones are most typical in women who are in their forties and who are overweight.
Sometimes, however, gallstones lodge in a duct and cause a blockage, resulting in abdominal pain. Cramping and, in some cases, constant pain lasts for eight or nine hours, until the gallstone passes.
If the pain doesn’t go away within a few hours or if it’s debilitating, or if you have yellowish skin or a high fever with chills, check in with a doctor to rule out a complication like gallbladder inflammation. In some cases your doctor may prescribe medications to dissolve the gallstones or surgery to remove your gallbladder.