Health experts have urged Nigerians whose navels suddenly start growing big not to ignore any discomfort or pain they feel in the stomach area as it could be due to an umbilical hernia.
According to them, an umbilical hernia occurs when the contents of the abdomen, the intestine, empty into the navel which can become deadly once the intestines are trapped.
Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, the experts explained that this is a congenital defect where the navel, when the umbilical cord is cut after birth, does not completely close after birth thus remaining open.
This opening in the stomach, they said, can cause pain when the intestine pushes itself through it thus making a person’s navel big and painful.
They also noted that there could be secondary causes of such pain, such as pregnancy, weight lifting, and weakness of the walls of the stomach.
According to Mayo Clinic, many infants are born with an umbilical hernia. The condition can also be acquired in adulthood and is more often seen among women.
A common sign of an umbilical hernia is a protruding navel, which in infants may be most noticeable when they cry. Many hernias close on their own by age one, and most by age five. while umbilical hernias that appear during adulthood are more likely to need surgical repair, the clinic says.
The experts, Prof. Lukman Abdur-rahman, a paediatric surgeon at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, and Dr. Stanley Egbogu also stressed that if a person experiences constant pain in the navel area, it should not be ignored because it could become a medical emergency.
Speaking with our correspondent, Prof. Abdur-rahman noted that not everyone with protruding navels suffers this comfort as they do not feel pain and can go on with their lives.
Explaining the condition, he said,
“If the navel ring has an opening, the content of the abdomen would want to escape through it and you’d see the navel become big. They are pushing through the narrow opening out, that is what we call a hernia, (a bulging of an organ or tissue through an abnormal opening)
“If the content of the abdomen is not trapped, the person can go with their life and will not have any issues but a majority that has more of the content of their abdomen, that is the intestine, going through the ring will become symptomatic and from time to time, they’d complain of stomach pain but are not even aware that it is the content of the abdomen entering the navel that could be the reason for the pain.”
He stated that if the pain is consistent and does not get treated, it could become a medical emergency where the blood supply to the intestine is caught off through the intestine is cut off and that is when the person begins to feel pain around the place. He added:
“If it is attended to early, the intestine will not go dead but if there is a delay, then the blood supply is cut off, it would be dead.”
Also speaking with our correspondent, Dr. Stanley Egbogu, a consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi said,
“If a person’s navel suddenly starts getting bigger, it means that you have to go in and close it.”
According to him, if the opening inside the navel is much and the intestine is protruding from the abnormal opening all the time, it can cause pain.
“Sometimes the intestines would bulge or come out of that naval opening that is supposed to be closed.
“So, intermittently it can become painful for the person so when it is causing the person pain if it is pushed back, it can go and if the person changes position it can go.
“But the issue is that the intestine is herniating from the navel – that means that it has left where it is supposed to be and is now coming through an opening that it is not supposed to.
“At times, it can come out and obstruct the intestines that come out through the navel to the extent that sometimes food cannot pass and it cannot digest.”
He stated that at the point when it is obstructing the passage of food and blood it has become an emergency because such obstructions can cause death if not quickly attended to.
The experts urged people not to waive away any sudden growth and pain they feel in their navel.