There are many reasons someone may experience belly button pain. Some causes are related to serious and potentially fatal conditions, while others are simple, resolvable stomach issues.
Anyone experiencing belly button pain should talk to their doctor who can best determine whether or not the pain is serious. Many minor conditions can cause pain in the navel area and even radiate to other areas of the body, including the pelvis, legs, and chest.
Fast facts on belly button pain:
- Pregnancy can cause women to have belly button pain.
- Some temporary conditions can cause belly pain.
- Anyone who has abdominal surgery can experience belly button pain.
- Constipation can cause belly button pain, but it is usually not a serious condition.
Indigestion is also called dyspepsia or upset stomach. It causes pain, burning, or discomfort in the upper abdomen, radiating to the belly button area.
Indigestion can be treated with over-the-counter antacids and acid blockers.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 1 in 4 people in America have experienced indigestion. Further, of those who see a doctor for indigestion, 3 in 4 people are diagnosed with functional dyspepsia.
Functional dyspepsia causes pain in the upper part of the stomach that radiates to the belly button. It is an ailment that comes and goes but has no known cause.
Much like indigestion, functional dyspepsia can be treated with over-the-counter antacids and acid blockers. Prescription acid suppressive therapies may help when these medications do not.
Mild belly button pain is no cause for concern, but women who are experiencing any significant and ongoing discomfort and pain should report it to a doctor.
An umbilical hernia during pregnancy is another possible reason for belly button pain in pregnancy. However, these types of hernias are rare and affect women who are pregnant with multiples or who are severely obese and pregnant.
Symptoms of an umbilical hernia include:
- a bulge near the belly button
- swelling around the belly button
- pain in, around, and near the belly button
- nausea and vomiting
Constipation is a widespread condition that is defined as a person having 3 or fewer bowel movements in a 1-week period, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Almost everyone gets constipated from time to time, and constipation that lasts a short time is not serious. Occasional constipation is treated with stool softeners and by adding processed or synthetic fibers to the diet.
Anyone who experiences constipation for 2 or more months, however, should see a doctor.
Pain after surgery
Most of the time, the pain caused by surgery will resolve as the body heals. Pain medications can help, depending on the severity of pain.
Any severe pain and swelling that includes the following should be cause for further investigation:
People experiencing any of these symptoms should visit their doctor, as these are signs of an infection.
Urinary tract infections
UTIs are more common in women than in men, but anyone, including children, can get a UTI. UTIs can cause pain in the abdomen and belly button.
UTIs are caused by bacteria and are treated with antibiotics.
Bacterial stomach infections
Bad gut bacteria can enter the body and live in the digestive tract for many years. With time, bacteria can cause painful sores in the stomach lining and small intestine. Sometimes, these infections put people at risk for stomach cancers.
Infections can cause belly button pain and pain throughout the abdomen.
Bacterial stomach infections can be treated with antibiotics. Once antibiotics start working, belly button and abdomen pain and other symptoms will usually resolve.
Commonly known as stomach flu, gastroenteritis is caused by consuming contaminated food or drink or having direct contact with an infected person. Belly button pain, stomach, and cramping are classic symptoms of gastroenteritis.
Gastroenteritis typically gets better on its own. Anyone who experiences dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea, has blood in stools, cannot keep liquids down, or has symptoms lasting longer than 3 days should contact a doctor.
Some conditions that cause belly button pain are particularly painful, but most are treatable and curable. Even those conditions that cannot be cured are still treatable, and pain can be managed.
Gallbladder attacks resulting from gallstones are very painful, and intense pain is usually the first indicator of a problem. Pain tends to start in the abdomen and travel to the belly button.
The only way to treat gallstone pain is to have surgery to remove the gallbladder. Once the gallbladder is removed, the pain will resolve.
Appendicitis is a very painful condition causing an inflamed appendix. One review in the Annals of Surgery reported there were almost 400,000 diagnoses of appendicitis in North America in 2015.
Appendicitis can be serious and even result in death.
Untreated appendicitis can cause peritonitis, which occurs if the appendix ruptures and the infection spreads in the abdomen.
Peritonitis is a dangerous and potentially fatal inflammation of the stomach lining that covers the stomach’s organs.
Appendix pain usually starts around the belly button and radiates throughout the abdomen. Pain worsens with any movement, including walking and coughing.
In addition to pain, appendicitis causes the following additional symptoms:
- nausea and vomiting
- appetite loss
- constipation or diarrhea
- abdominal bloating or swelling
- inability to pass gas
Anyone who suspects they may have appendicitis because they have severe belly button and abdominal pain or any of the symptoms noted above, should seek immediate medical attention.
Pancreatitis is a medical condition where the pancreas becomes inflamed.
In pancreatitis, digestive enzymes start moving to the pancreas before they are released into the small intestine and attack the pancreas. Belly button pain is a classic symptom of an inflamed pancreas.
Pancreatitis is often a chronic condition, and belly button pain is never fully resolved. Treatment can help manage chronic pancreatitis.
Small intestine disorders
Small intestine disorders, such as Crohn’s disease, can cause intense pain in and around the belly button. These types of conditions are chronic and painful, but they are treatable.
Belly button pain has more than one possible cause. The following circumstances of belly button pain may require immediate medical attention and should not be put on hold:
- severe pain that affects and prevents daily activity
- pain that causes waking at night or stops someone in their tracks
- pain accompanied by severe vomiting
- pain with bloody stools
- pain resulting from an injury
Most of the time, belly button pain is not serious, but in some cases, it can be. Determining the cause of belly pain can help a person to manage it with appropriate treatments.
Therefore, anyone experiencing very painful or unusual belly button pain should bring it to the attention of their doctor.