The Complete List of Umbilical Hernia Symptoms in Adults

If you’re searching for umbilical hernia symptoms in adults, I’ve got great news for you: There’s really only one symptom. Read on to find out what it is.

a pin to a post about umbilical hernia symptoms in adults

In the age where a common complaint such as a sore throat could be a symptom of anything from a cold to throat cancer, it’s an anomaly to have a medical issue that only has one symptom listed.

However, for anyone wanting to find out about umbilical hernia symptoms in adults, you’re in luck—there’s only one symptom.

I scoured the internet thinking surely there must be other symptoms. But, all of this extra research has just reinforced the idea that there’s only one symptom you need to know about.

Do you want to learn more about umbilical hernias? Download your FREE copy of The Beginner’s Guide to Umbilical Hernia Repair now!

Umbilical Hernia Symptoms in Adults

The one main sign of an umbilical hernia in an adult is… a bulge in or near your belly button area. This makes it super-easy to decide whether you think you have an umbilical hernia or not.

Do you have a bulge near your belly button?

Then, it’s probably an umbilical hernia. Identifying umbilical hernias is just that easy.

a pregnant woman with an umbilical hernia

Even if your bulge isn’t always present, it’s still a sign you could have an umbilical hernia.

For example, you might notice the bulge appears when you are standing or sitting up. Then, it might go away when you lay down on your back.

What’s important to know is that bulge at your belly button is your intestines.

What Is an Umbilical Hernia?

When your abdominal wall near your belly button thins or tears, it leaves a hole. It’s natural for your intestines to start to migrate toward and even push through the hole a little bit.

This is why, when you’re standing, your intestines kind of slip out of your body and why, when you lie down, they can slide back into the body cavity. Some people might have to gently encourage the intestines to slide back in, but this should be a very easy and gentle process.

In many cases, the umbilical hernia is neither painful nor inconvenient. It’s just simply odd, a visual reminder that something isn’t quite right in your belly button area.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Having Your Umbilical Hernia Repair with Mesh

How to Self-Check for an Umbilical Hernia

If you’re unsure of whether you have an umbilical hernia or not, you can always check yourself out. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Lie down on your back.
  2. Let your belly muscles completely relax.
  3. Use the tips of your pointer and middle fingers to feel around your belly button area. If you feel pain when you apply light pressure near your belly button, you need to see a doctor soon. If you had to push something back into your body to be able to feel in the center of your belly button, that was your intestines and you have an umbilical hernia.
  4. As you feel around your belly button area, pay attention to the muscle beneath the surface of your skin. You might be able to feel that the muscle thins out. Or, you might be able to feel a hole right near the middle of your belly button. If you feel a hole, that’s an umbilical hernia.
  5. You can measure your hernia hole by gently using your fingertips. For example, my hernia was about two and a half fingertips by two fingertips. Absolutely do not push or force your fingers to fit within your hernia!

Want a Video to Teach You How to Check to See If You Have an Umbilical Hernia?

Sometimes, it’s just easier to watch a video when you’re wanting to learn how to do something new. Check out this video to learn how to check to see if you have an umbilical hernia.

Seek Medical Care Immediately If…

According to Johns Hopkins, you should seek medical care immediately if you have:

  • abdominal pain and tenderness;
  • constipation;
  • fever;
  • full, round abdomen;
  • red, purple, dark or discolored bulge; and/or
  • vomiting.

These can all be symptoms of a strangulated umbilical hernia, which is what happens when your intestines become stuck in your hernia hole.

This is a particularly dangerous situation because it can mean you’re not getting enough blood flow to that section of your intestines. Without enough blood flow, the section of the intestines could become necrotic and have to be removed.

Do you still want more information about umbilical hernias? Download your FREE copy of The Beginner’s Guide to Umbilical Hernia Repair now!

Do you have any additional information about umbilical hernias? Let us know in the comments below.

About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! After going through umbilical hernia repair, I recovered and used simple exercises to rebuild my abs so they're stronger than ever. Let me help you do the same.


  1. Joseph Lapinski on May 16, 2021 at 4:02 am

    Hi, I am 72. I live alone. I am about 175 lbs, vegetarian. I have had a umbilical hernia for 3 years. No pain until recently below the belly button some muscular pain. I will now have it repaired. Do you have information on recuperation period? I can order food in. I am wondering about if I will need help the first night home, etc.
    Thank you, Joseph

    • Sarah Stockett on June 1, 2021 at 11:11 am

      Hi Joseph,
      I know this reply is a little belated since you and I have been chatting via email, but I wanted to make sure to answer your question because it’s an important one. 🙂

      After surgery, you should have someone bring you home and stay with you for a day or two. You probably won’t need much help, but it’s great to have someone already there in case you do.

      • Chanel on August 8, 2021 at 3:05 pm

        Hi Sarah, I have an umbilical hernia, it has never caused me any issues until recently. I had food poisoning and after I recovered,that’s when problems arised. I have been experiencing abdominal pain, cramps, sometimes nausea and vomiting, not every day but for the past two weeks. Does that mean it is strangulated.?

        • Sarah Stockett on August 8, 2021 at 7:34 pm

          Hi there! I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I think you’d better give your doctor a call and see what they recommend.

  2. anne on July 2, 2021 at 5:32 pm

    i am 69 and have an umbilical hernia which has been evident for several months. i did not seek advice as it did not seem to be a problem. however for the last few weeks I have been feeling bloated and noted that my stomach looks quite rounded. i do have constipation anyway sometimes and take natural medication for that. but I haver never linked the two before.

    than you


    should I seek urgent medical advice now … i have been reluctant during the pandemic as i have not felt it is serious

    • Sarah Stockett on July 4, 2021 at 10:36 am

      Hi there, Anne!

      I would say that if your hernia doesn’t seem very large and if it’s not causing you pain, you can probably postpone talking to a surgeon about it. However, if you do happen to have a doctor’s appointment in the future (say for a yearly physical), you should talk to that doctor about it. He or she would be able to look at it and let you know if it needs urgent attention.

      If you’re feeling bloated, it might be a good idea to add a probiotic to your diet. But also, your hernia will cause your abdominal muscles to start to become a little more lax than you’re probably used to.

      Best wishes,

  3. PRINCESS S JEGBOH on September 13, 2021 at 5:31 am

    Hi, I’m Princess 31 years of age, I have an umbilical hernia. notice it was 2012 when I give birth to my son on august 14 2012 but I underwent an operation for this and I’m still experiencing the intestine entering the hole.

    • Sarah Stockett on September 13, 2021 at 12:08 pm

      Hi Princess!
      If your intestine is still poking out, it sounds like you need another repair. Maybe the first repair didn’t hold or maybe you’ve something in the meantime to cause a new issue. I’d contact your doctor and proceed from there.
      Best wishes,

  4. Sarah K. on September 23, 2021 at 6:51 pm

    Hi there. Not for sure if this is something you could help with or not. I have a 3 month old infant that is quite a chunk I’ve had to wait longer to have my umbilical hernia repaired, due to csection healing; and then an emergency appendectomy. Any tips for keeping my hernia able to heal, while still caring for my baby somehow? I’m trying to plan ahead but feeling a bit clueless. My surgeon hasn’t told me much other than to ‘take it easy’. Which isn’t exactly feasible for the first three weeks in my case. Exercises, advice appreciated!

    • Sarah Stockett on September 24, 2021 at 5:05 pm

      Hi there! Thanks for reaching out. I also have had a C-section, so I can relate a little bit to what you’re going through. As I recall, one of the things I couldn’t do after umbilical hernia surgery was lift anything heavier than 10 pounds. Since I still had a little one in diapers who weighed more than 10 pounds, we moved all our child care to the ground.

      His bed, the changing table–everything moved to the ground so I wouldn’t have to lift.

      I have to say, I’m a little concerned that your surgeon has only told you to “take it easy.” He or she should easily be able to pass you a copy of the post-op care instructions. It just seems kind of fishy.

      But, after you have surgery, don’t try to exercise. It’s crucial that you give your body enough time to heal from your surgery. If you don’t give yourself enough time to heal, you’ll be back up on the operating table needing a brand new repair.

      If you have any more questions or want to chat further, please feel free to email me at

  5. MIKE on November 26, 2021 at 10:31 am

    Hi Sarah, I am 72 and have an umbilical hernia since 2012. Over the Years it has grown to the point where it is now a reddy purple colour and is tender around the belly button area and sore when I cough, it feels like it is moving.
    My Doctor said because I suffer from blood and lung issues it is not advisable to operate on.
    Can you advise on what I should do.

    • Sarah Stockett on December 1, 2021 at 5:22 pm

      Hi there, Mike! That sounds horribly painful, and I’m sorry you’re going through this. Of course, you should follow your doctor’s orders. That being said, if you disagree with your doctor, it never hurts to seek the opinion of another doctor. If it were me, I’d double check by getting another surgeon’s opinion.

  6. Michael on December 8, 2021 at 6:27 pm

    Hello. I am 48 and I am wondering why I felt no pain when I did some heavy lifting that caused my umbilical hernia. Within half an hour of testing a heavy load I started to feel a lump forming. Perhaps 3 hours later it had gotten bigger, harder, and incredibly painful. I was unsure what was happening because I didn’t feel any pain when I initially did that heavy heave while testing that load before lifting. My doctor did not feel it was incarcerated although it was extremely painful. Sleeping and lying down was extremely uncomfortable and painful for at least 4 weeks. Then the hard lump got very itchy. Approximately 7-8 weeks after the injury, one morning, it was just gone. It still was a bit tender in the area and I did get stomach aches every time I ate for the complete duration and after for another month. It is almost completely healed now I feel.

    1) I am wondering why it didn’t hurt when i first injured myself. Was it supposed too?
    2) Does anything rip when it happens? And does it sound like it was incarcerated and it just worked itself out? Why so painful?
    I am pretty healthy and in good shape but afraid this might happen again. I could not find any information on this online and am excited to here your reply.

    Thank you

    • Sarah Stockett on December 11, 2021 at 4:07 pm

      Hi there, Michael! I would guess that your umbilical hernia probably happened sometime before your big lift. However, your big lift caused enough pressure to push some of your intestines through the hole. When the intestines come through, it normally feels like a hard lump. And, I know when I had mine while I was pregnant, it itched like the devil.

      You’re right to be afraid that this could happen again. Right now, you’ve got a hole in your abdominal wall. Technically, your intestines could push through the hole at any time, but it’s more likely that one day you’ll lift something heavy again and it will happen again. Most of the time, you can just lay down on your back and gently press your intestines back in.

      The only way to 100% get rid of the hole is to have umbilical hernia surgery. But, if you want to hold out on surgery for a while, I have a taping technique that’s helping some folks delay surgery. If you’re interested, send me an email at I’m working on putting all of the details into a post, but I haven’t gotten it done yet.

  7. Amelia Bradley on March 22, 2022 at 5:07 am

    My umbilical hernia usually causes me no pain as I’ve had it for several years. I’m 37 two children one born via c section. I’m very overweight (270lbs)due to medication and poor diet. Two days ago my hernia has started to hurt a dull persistent pain and my abdomen area, particularly the hernia area is very sore and tender to the touch. I have an appt scheduled at the local hospital tomorrow morning. I just wanted your opinion as well. I am still able to move my bowels.

    • Sarah Stockett on March 23, 2022 at 8:01 pm

      Hi there, Amelia!
      I’m glad you have an appointment at the hospital. It’s always best to have a doctor check you out. In the meantime, you just need to watch for fever, nausea, and the inability to move your bowels. If you start to notice any of those symptoms, head right to the ER.

  8. Bd on November 18, 2022 at 4:33 pm

    Apologies but correct me if I am wrong the hole is not the hernia but rather diastasis recti. The umbilical hernia is the intestine or fatty tissue coming through the hole in your abs.

    • Sarah Stockett on November 18, 2022 at 4:48 pm

      Diastasis recti is when the rectus abdominis muscle separates. There’s a line down the middle called the linea alba. Most of the time, this is where the diastasis happens. However, it’s not necessarily a given that a diastasis recti will result in a hernia. The separation may occur with or without a resulting hole. That hole is the hernia where your intestines may pass through.
      I hope that helps!

  9. Sally Smith on January 22, 2024 at 3:09 pm

    Hello, I’m 25 years old and I have an umbilical hernia. I went to the ER for stomach and back pain and having issues with my bowel movements. When I was at the ER I got a abdominal CT scan they stated that my hernia is under 1cm and “shouldn’t be causing me pain and issues” and told me to see a gastroenterologist. I am very frustrated and still having full and constant stomach pain and issues.

    • Sarah Stockett on January 22, 2024 at 9:04 pm

      Hi Sally! That sounds absolutely horrible. I think the ER is right to recommend you see a gastroenterologist. I just did a quick Google and it looks like there are a couple different digestive tract issues that could be causing your stomach pain, back pain, and bowel movement issues. The umbilical hernia might just be a red herring in the case of trying to figure out why you’re in so much pain.

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