Belly button pain or umbilical pain can be really very troublesome. In fact, sometimes it can become very frightening too, as you might be thinking of various causes of severe belly button pain like appendicitis, etc.
But, we need to be aware of various causes of belly button pain and their symptoms, in order to know if its serious sort of navel pain, or if your umbilical pain is being caused due to any minor ailment. In this article, we shall discuss all the possible causes of belly button pain, and you will surely find an answer to your question why does my belly hurt.
What is belly button?
The belly button is also called as umbilicus or navel. When the baby is growing inside the mother’s womb, it is called the fetus. The fetus is connected to the mother’s uterus through umbilical cord in order to receive oxygen and all the other nutrients.
After the birth of the child, the umbilical cord of the baby is cut off to separate the baby from the placenta of the mother, leaving behind a small umbilical stump. Then after few days the umbilical stump dries and falls off, leaving behind belly button or navel or umbilicus.
Type of belly button pain:
There are mainly 2 types of belly button pain, based on whether the pain around belly button is caused due to pain from the internal organs or if the pain is caused due to any problem with the structures related to belly button itself. They are:
- Radiating or referred belly button pain
- Nonradiating belly button pain
Radiating or referred belly button pain:
This is the pain felt around the belly button when there is any disease of the internal organs, for example swelling or inflammation of the internal abdominal organs. There are many causes of radiating or referred umbilical pain like Appendicitis, Crohn’s disease, Pyelonephritis, Diverticulitis, Irritable bowel syndrome, etc.
Nonradiating belly button pain:
This is the belly button pain felt when there is any problem with structures over or beneath the belly button like developing umbilical hernia, tear or injury of abdominal muscles, etc.
Belly button pain or Umbilical Pain: What causes pain in belly button?
There are innumerable causes of pain in belly button ranging from mild causes to severe life-threatening causes which need immediate medical attention. Let us discuss all the possible causes of belly button pain.
1. Appendicitis causes belly button pain:
The appendix is a part of your gastrointestinal system. It is present at the junction of the cecum, a part of the large gut, and ileum, a part of the small gut or small bowel. In short, the appendix is present at the ileocecal junction.
The appendix is a vestigial organ, meaning it is not useful for our body for any function. If the appendix is inflamed or swollen due to an infection it is called Appendicitis. In appendicitis, the pain starts as belly button pain, around the umbilicus.
Then the pain shifts to the right side of lower part of the abdomen, to a point called McBurney’s point. A person suffering from this condition will also have many other symptoms apart from umbilical pain, like nausea, vomiting, anorexia or loss of appetite.
The only treatment of appendicitis is the surgical removal of the appendix. An appendix is a useless organ in our body, its removal won’t hurt us in any way. You will also be given antibiotics along with surgery to treat the infection. If Appendix is not removed on time, it can develop into severe infection called Appendicular abscess. This can burst and can even lead to death. So, timely treatment of Appendicitis is very crucial.
2. Constipation leading to umbilical pain:
Constipation is becoming a very common problem these days due to the lifestyle habits we are following. Eating junk food, having a sedentary lifestyle, drinking less water, all of these factors contribute to constipation. Constipation can also be a part of certain diseases like Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
A person having constipation passes very small amounts of stool each time with difficulty. The frequency of passage of stool also reduces than before. Constipation can lead to belly button pain, pain in the lower part of the abdomen, and also pain in the anal region.
In order to get rid of constipation, You will need to consume a diet rich in fiber like fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain food. You also need to drink plenty of water and also exercise every day to get relief from constipation.
3. Indigestion leading to belly button pain:
Indigestion is a very common problem. It can be caused by many different conditions like GERD or Gastroesophageal reflux disease, Gastritis, Gallbladder problems, problems with Pancreas, etc.
Eating spicy food, and many other lifestyle factors also contribute to Indigestion. A person having Indigestion will have many symptoms like pain below the rib cage, pain behind sternum or breastbone, belly button pain, belching or burping, passing flatus, regurgitation of acidic food contents into the mouth, etc.
For Indigestion, you will need to get some medications from your doctor like Proton pump inhibitors, H2 receptor blockers, Antacid syrups, etc. You will also need to follow lifestyle modifications like avoid eating spicy food, eat timely meals, avoid drinking caffeinated drinks like Tea, Coffee, avoid drinking carbonated or aerated beverages, etc.
4. Pain around belly button after abdominal surgery:
If you have undergone any abdominal surgery recently, there will be an incision or cut over your abdomen. Immediately after getting operated, you might feel pain over the cut or the incision area. This pain might persist for 1 or 2 days, during which you will be given painkillers or analgesics.
But, it is very important to take proper care of the incision area and to get it dressed and cleaned every day by the nurses. Otherwise, the incision might get infected and ooze out pus. Your surgeon will keep checking the incision and the dressing every day to make sure that your incision is not getting infected.
If you develop an infection of the surgical site, it will surely hurt very badly around the belly button. Even after the surgery if you develop pain around belly button which is very severe and is lasting for a long time, you will need to consult your surgeon.
Pregnancy is a God-given gift for women. It is a time of which there are many hormonal and physical changes in the woman. There is an expansion of the abdomen during pregnancy to accommodate the growing baby.
This enlargement of the abdomen of the pregnant woman can make the woman develop pain around belly button. In some rare cases, belly button pain in pregnant women can indicate fetal distress or some problem to the baby inside the womb. In most cases, this type of pain is very severe and continuous.
6. Umbilical hernia leading to belly button pain:
A hernia is the protrusion of an organ through the muscle or tissue which supports the organ. In an umbilical hernia is a condition in which there is protrusion of the bowel through the abdominal muscles or wall. This leads to bulging out of the navel or belly button.
An umbilical hernia is painless in a majority of the cases. But, in some people, this can lead to belly button pain. Any type of a hernia can be cured only by surgical repair. An umbilical hernia also needs surgical treatment.
7. Cystitis causing pain behind belly button:
We all must have suffered from at least one episode of UTI or urinary tract infection during our lifetime. UTI’s are very common amongst the people.
People suffering from UTI have many symptoms like passing urine frequently, having burning sensation while urinating, having severe urge to urinate, pain while urinating, etc.
When the bacterial infection causing UTI also causes inflammation of the urinary bladder, it is called cystitis. In Cystitis, there will be suprapubic pain or pain above the pubic area, along with the symptoms of UTI.
In some people, cystitis can also lead to umbilical pain. Cystitis is treated with antibiotics like Norfloxacin, Nitrofurantoin, etc. You also might be given other drugs to reduce the urinary colic like Flavoxate. You will need to drink fluids to flush out the urinary infection.
8. Peptic ulcers:
Peptic ulcers include both the ulcers that occur in the stomach and the duodenum. Gastric ulcers can be caused by various reasons like eating spicy food, being under severe stress, intake of large doses of drugs called NSAIDs or Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs over prolonged periods, etc.
These ulcers cause severe belly button pain and pain just below the ribs. You will also suffer from pain behind the sternum or breastbone. Drinking alcohol and smoking are also known to aggravate peptic ulcers. Peptic ulcers are diagnosed on endoscopy, by passing a tube called endoscope into your stomach and duodenum.
If you are suffering from this condition, you will need to take drugs to reduce acid secretion in the stomach like Pantoprazole, etc. You will also be given antacid syrups to protect the peptic ulcers from the acid in the stomach. If your peptic ulcers are being caused by any bacterial infection like Helicobacter Pylori, you will also be given antibiotics to combat this infection.
Gallstones can also cause belly button pain. Cholelithiasis or Gallstones occur in the gallbladder, and they lead to pain below the ribcage on the right side and around belly button. The pain increases after you eat any heavy food containing fats.
If these gallstones obstruct the passage of bile from the bile duct, it can lead to Jaundice or yellowishness of your eyes and skin. Gallstones can also lead to obstruction, and infection of the gallbladder leading to symptoms like fever, chills and abdominal pain. They can also obstruct the bile duct and cause its infection leading to fever, chills, jaundice, etc.
If you notice any symptoms like these, you will need to consult a surgeon immediately to get an ultrasound done, and for detailed evaluation and treatment.
The pancreas is one of the important parts of our body which play a vital role in the digestion of food and also secretion of important hormones like insulin, glucagon, etc. The pancreas can get inflamed acutely or chronically leading to acute pancreatitis or chronic pancreatitis.
In these conditions, the patient will develop pain in the epigastric region of between the ribs, and also have belly button pain.
There is an elevation of enzymes like amylase and lipase in the blood when the person has pancreatitis. Your doctor might also perform many other diagnostic tests to detect your condition.
11. Irritable bowel syndrome leading to pain around belly button:
Irritable bowel syndrome is abbreviated as IBS. A person suffering from IBS has many symptoms like having belly button pain or pain around belly button or abdominal cramps. There are two types of IBS, and they are diarrhea-predominant IBS and constipation-predominant IBS. In diarrhea-predominant IBS, the person has abdominal pain or umbilical pain along with frequent episodes of diarrhea.
In Constipation predominant type of IBS, the person has pain behind belly button along with constipation or passing hard pellet like stools with difficulty and less frequency. Some people have alternating constipation and diarrhea. They pass a lot of mucus or sticky white substance along with stools.
Majority of people with IBS or irritable bowel syndrome also have anxiety, depression, and other psychological problems. So, people with IBS are also given antidepressants or anxiolytics along with treatment of diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain.
12. Crohn’s disease leading to umbilical pain:
Crohn’s disease is a part of a disease spectrum called Inflammatory bowel disease, which includes Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis. In Crohn’s disease, there can be inflammation or swelling of any part of the gastrointestinal tract ranging from mouth to anus.
But, the most common part affected is the ileocecal junction or the junction of the large intestine and the small intestine. In this conditions, there is malabsorption of the food, diarrhea, and the affected person loses a lot of weight. The person also suffers from abdominal pain or belly button pain frequently.
13. Lactose intolerance leading to pain behind belly button:
Have you ever heard of lactose intolerance? In this condition, the person is allergic to milk and milk products as they contain lactose sugar. They cannot digest milk. So, if they consume milk or milk products, they will develop several symptoms like belly button pain, bloating in the abdomen, diarrhea, etc. The only treatment for this condition is to avoid milk and milk products completely. You will have to take soya milk or another type of milk which doesn’t have lactose in it.
14. Food poisoning:
Food poisoning occurs when you consume food which is contaminated with bacteria and their toxins. When you eat such food, you will develop symptoms within few hours after eating such food. You will develop symptoms like belly button pain or abdominal cramps. You might also develop symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, fever, etc. But, the symptoms will resolve by themselves in 1 to 2 days.
15. Kidney stones:
If you have kidney stones, you might have pain from the loin or back of the trunk just beside the spinal cord which radiates down to the groin. You might also have pain behind belly button. A person having kidney stones will also suffer from symptoms like hematuria or pass reddish-colored urine.
The affected person will have pain which comes and goes in waves. The person will also have severe nausea and vomiting. The treatment of kidney stones will be based on the location and size of the stone.
16. Pelvic inflammatory disease:
It is also known as PID. PID is a disease which affects women. It is the inflammation or swelling of the parts of the female reproductive system like fallopian tubes, ovaries, etc. This condition is caused by infections with bacteria like Chlamydia and gonorrhea which are sexually transmitted.
A woman suffering from PID will have belly button pain, pain in the lower part of the abdomen, pain during sex, vaginal discharge or abnormal color, etc. It will be diagnosed by a gynecologist after performing physical examination, and certain diagnostic test like ultrasound. It will be treated with high power broad-spectrum antibiotics.
17. Gastroenteritis leading to pain around navel:
Diarrhea caused by gastroenteritis is a very common problem. You can develop this problem when you have eaten some infected food outside or when you have developed any viral fever or infection. In this condition, you will develop belly button pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.
There is no need of antibiotics to treat this condition. But, you will have to maintain adequate hydration by drinking plenty of water and fluids. You will need to take rest and you can take some antidiarrheal drugs on the advice of your doctor.
18. Food allergies leading to navel pain:
If you are allergic to any food item or ingredients in it like peanuts, nuts or anything else, you might develop belly button pain, diarrhea, vomiting, etc. You will need to avoid eating such foods to which you are allergic to in order to avoid these symptoms of food allergy.
19. Drug side effects leading to pain in belly button:
Intake of several types of drugs is associated with belly button pain. Several analgesics and antibiotics can also lead to belly button pain, along with other symptoms like nausea. Many other drugs are can also lead to pain around the navel.
20. Excess Gas leading to pain near belly button:
If you have excess gas in your bowels due to indigestion or any other reason, you will have pain near belly button. You need to avoid eating foods which lead to excess gas formation. You will also need to take certain medications to reduce acid secretion and to promote intestinal motility on the advice of your physician.
I hope you have seen all the possible causes of belly button pain. If you have severe belly button pain or consistent pain which is not responding to any over the counter analgesics, or if you have any other symptoms along with belly button pain, then you will have to consult your physician immediately for prompt diagnosis and treatment.