Sharp belly button pain in the abdomen can be caused by viral and bacterial infections, hernia, appendicitis or even strain during pregnancy. The hurt, soreness and pain can be felt around the navel area, below, above, inside or behind the navel. Here’s a complete list of causes and how you can get rid, treat and relieve the pain in the lower abdomen.
Why does my belly button hurt?
It is quite common for one to experience belly pain. It could be a mere tenderness that could cause one to feel uncomfortable around the belly button area but it could also be a sharp debilitating pain that may require medical attention.
When your belly button hurts, or when you get pain in the lower abdomen, it could be serious or a slight strain. We have discussed the various causes and treatments available.
What type of pain are you experiencing?
Before trying to identify the cause of the belly button pain, it is important to be able to explain the type of pain you’re feeling for easy diagnosis.
First you need to be able to describe the consistency of your pain in belly button or area around/ beside your navel area.
- Is it constant, or is it periodic?
- Is the pain worse at certain times of the day like when you get up in the morning or the end of the day, or is it more painful when doing specific things like eating a meal?
- Is your pain set off by a certain movement or centralized to a specific area?
- How your pain presents itself will give you and your doctor a better idea about what is causing your discomfort.
- Is the pain sharp, is it mild? Does it feel like it is debilitating i.e. causing you to not be able to carry on with what you are doing?
- Does the belly button hurt with evidence of discharge or oozing pus and smell?
- Does the pain radiate to the left or right of the abdomen?
What Causes Belly Button Pain?
Pain is our body’s way telling us that something in our systems isn’t quite just right. It is your brain’s response to indicate injury, damage, or illness. Additionally, pain behind belly button is indicative of a further underlying issue.
Various conditions can be associated with sharp pain and soreness in the belly button and it usually depends on the organ involved. Some causes of a sore belly button are not serious or even life threatening and as such may be treated at home. Others however, are quite acute and if they are not treated on time, may even cause death.
1. Viral or bacterial infections around navel
Infections in the stomach can cause the area around the belly button to become tender, red and sore. Some bacterial infections can cause the stomach to swell due to the reproduction of the virus or bacteria.
This may be accompanied by nausea or flu symptoms including vomiting. If you notice these symptoms, contact your doctor for an examination. It may necessary to get prescription antibiotics to get rid of the infection effectively.
2. Navel pain from overeating and food poisoning
While we eat, the stomach usually expands in order to take on the size and accommodate the food you have consumed. If one consumes too much food, this can cause excess pressure on the abdomen.
Over consumption of food can also cause gas build up in the stomach, putting pressure on the surrounding areas. Food poisoning can also cause the stomach to expand due to the buildup of gas from growing bacterial colonies. As the infection makes its way through your system you can experience nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
3. Pain in belly button during pregnancy
Do you experience pain in the belly button during the first trimester and second trimester? According to The Bump, “It’s pretty natural for your belly button to be sore. As your belly grows, your natural tissues stretch in a way that hasn’t happened before.”
Your belly button is likely to hurt if it is your first pregnancy or if it is an ectopic pregnancy. The discomfort is usually mild during the first and second trimesters, but can intensify by the third trimester.
However, this pain is not typically constant or overwhelming, but it is imperative to always remain aware of the pain, and take note of it because it may be suggestive of a more serious issue that may affect the baby.
In most cases, this pain is caused by your body adjusting to the growing baby. If the pain is severe it can be a sign of something severe such as a fallopian pregnancy that will require immediate medical attention.
Ectopic pregnancy and pain on lower abdomen
Do you have severe pain just below the navel? When a woman of childbearing age complains of lower left side abdominal pain, her doctor’s first suspicions may be an ectopic pregnancy. This happens when the fertilized egg plants itself outside of the uterus, often in a fallopian tube.
The pain an ectopic pregnancy may cause can be dull or sharp and may be accompanied by vaginal bleeding. Many women with this condition are often unaware they are even pregnant when the symptoms begin.
4. Endometriosis and female belly button discomfort
Endometriosis occurs in females or women when the tissue lining the womb, also called endometrium, is left outside the womb. Endometriosis can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. This is because the amount and distribution of endometriosis varies in women, and also because the disease doesn’t always show the same symptoms in every woman.
There is no correlation between the extent of endometriosis and the level of pain a woman feels. Some women with only small areas of endometriosis may experience severe pain while others will have little pain. According to the NHS, “Most women with endometriosis get pain in the area between their hips and the tops of their legs.” Endometriosis may also cause the following additional symptoms:
- Swelling of the belly button
- Heavy, painful periods
- Bleeding and pain during and after sex
- Difficulty in conceiving
5. Patent urachus and pain inside belly button
Does your belly button hurt inside? Pain and a foul smell and discharge from the belly button can be due to a condition known as patent urachus. The urachus is a tube connecting the bladder and the umbilicus. Normally, the urachus closes after birth. However, there are instances when this does not happen.
An open urachus results in bacterial and fungal infections that lead to foul odor and a smelly discharge and also belly button pain.
6. Navel hurts after surgery
If you have recently undergone abdominal surgery can experience belly button pain. This pain can be acute or mild and may also be accompanied by diarrhea or constipation. As your body heals from your surgery this pain should fade away.
Common surgeries that are associated with sharp belly button pain include after hernia surgery, keyhole surgery, tummy tuck, C section birth surgery and hysterectomy. Gall bladder surgery is also known to have complications such as pain and soreness around the belly button.
7. Pain around belly button from appendicitis
Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix, a small tube like structure that is attached to the cecum. Stomach pain around belly button area could be a sign of appendicitis. According to Health.com, “Appendicitis pain often occurs in the lower-right side of the abdomen. The first sign, however, is typically discomfort near the belly button, which then moves to the lower abdomen.”
Belly button pain due to appendicitis can be compared to the feeling of indigestion or constipation. At first, the pain will be dispersed and not localized to one specific area.
It will be around the belly button region, with the exact spot difficult to pinpoint. Pain will move to the lower right side of the abdominal region as the condition progresses. This pain will be exacerbated when you walk or cough. Patients may also experience nausea. The general course of action after diagnosis is appendectomy.
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a condition associated with pain inside the belly button. High blood sugar may also affect the condition of the belly button. For example, a discharge resembling a cottage cheese-like substance. This may cause your belly button to be smelly and get infected with bacteria.
The American Diabetes Association notes that vomiting, lower abdominal pain and nausea are likely to be signs of DKA in diabetics. If you have severe pain around the navel area, see your doctor for proper treatment.
9. Hernia and pain below and above belly button
Hernia is another cause of belly button pain, which occurs when part of an abdominal organ (intestines, bowels, bladder, etc.) is pushed outside of where it should be. Pain and tenderness around, above and below the affected area is the most common sign of a hernia. This belly button pain will be elevated with activity, such as walking out or bending over.
Other symptoms include a tender lump, painful bowel movements, urination scrotum pain, and a heavy feeling in the abdomen. Surgical repair of the torn tissue is the primary treatment for a hernia. Before treatment, avoid any activity that may exacerbate the hernia.
An umbilical hernia can usually be seen after the umbilical cord stump falls off, within a few weeks after birth. But some children don’t get a hernia until they’re a little older. When a child has an umbilical hernia you may notice a soft bulge under the skin of the belly button.
The doctor can push part of the bulge back in. The bulge may be easier to see when your child sits or stands upright or strains stomach muscles during normal activities such as crying, coughing, or having a bowel movement.
Umbilical hernias can vary in size. They are rarely bigger than about 1 in. (2.5 cm) across. Most children don’t feel pain from the hernia. Talk to your doctor if your child is vomiting, has pain, or has a swollen belly.
A doctor usually can tell that a child has an umbilical hernia by how the belly looks. If your child has a hernia, your doctor will check its size and shape and see whether the hernia can be pushed back in.
10. Certain medications
Some medications prescribed to treat stomach problems can cause belly button pain. This may be indicative of an adverse reaction to the medication and it may be advisable to stop the medication immediately, and consult your doctor on available alternatives.
11. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Also known as IBS, irritable bowel syndrome is another cause for pain in the left side of belly button. This common condition may cause either diarrhea or constipation, gas, bloating, and abdominal pain or cramping. This is a chronic condition and the true cause is unknown.
12. Crohn’s Disease
This is an inflammatory bowel disease and is a chronic condition requiring long term management. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, lack of appetite, weight loss, small tears in the anus known as fissures, and insufficient red blood cells.
There is no cure for Crohn’s disease and it is often genetically passed. Sometimes smoking or your body’s reaction to normal bacteria can cause the disease as well. The main treatment goal is to control the symptoms and keep the patient in remission.
The majority of people with gallstones do not experience symptoms. Symptoms will generally only occur when there is a complication. The symptom that mostly manifests is immense upper abdominal pain, though it may radiate down to the belly button.
This pain will occur periodically, occurring every few days, months, or even years. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fever, bloating, belching, and jaundice. You should seek treatment if you are experiencing constant pain, fever, or jaundice. For severe cases of gallstones surgical intervention will be required.
One or several of the following signs and symptoms may be present depending on the exact cause of the discomfort.
- Stomach gas
- Belly button painful to touch or when pressed
- Redness around belly button
- Bleeding or discharge in the navel
- Your navel hurts when bending over
- Blood in stool
- Navel pain when urinating (bell button hurts when I pee)
- Pain comes and goes and pain pulling inside
- Pain with no bulge
- Pain radiating to the back or left side
Treatment and How to Relieve Navel Pain.
Treatment offered for severe and sharp belly button pain mainly depends on the cause. In some instances, the discomfort will go away on its own, but it others, you will need treatment. Treatments can be as simple as antibiotics and as complex as surgery. Here are ways to get rid of stomach pain below belly button or even above the navel.
a) Home remedies for a sore belly button
Home care and treatment can help you relieve and get rid of stomach pain around the sore navel area. Sometimes cramping, hygiene and straining during exercise, vomiting and coughing can cause the hurt. Here are a few home remedies you could use depending on the cause.
- Frequent cleaning of the navel hole especially if you have a belly button piercing that is infected.
- Antibiotic cream application twice a day. You can buy an OTC antibiotic cream. However, it is recommended that you get a prescription from your doctor.
- Cold compress over umbilicus for pain relief. This home remedy is more likely to work if you are getting this pain during period cramps or from exercise such as jogging, weight lifting etc.
- Application of ice pack over the belly button will help relieve the pain. The coldness of the ice pack will help constrict the blood vessels thus reducing the pressure and relieving the pain.
- Frozen vegetables can also relieve pain by applying it over the belly button in case an ice pack is not available.
Do not use any home remedy to relieve the pain unless you are sure of the cause.
b) Prescription medications
Some medicines can be prescribed by your doctor depending on the cause of the discomfort. The following are some of the options your doctor might give you.
- Pain relief medications for pain management
- NSAIDs – Tylenol or Motrin
- Antibiotics- If wound is infected
Other treatments will depend on the specific causes. Here are other ways to get rid of inflamed belly button and its pain.
- Crohn’s disease, can also be treated using the methods above which help to get the patient into remission as Crohn’s cannot be cured.
- For severe cases of gallstones surgical intervention will be required. Treatment for mild cases includes reduction by avoiding fatty foods, drinking only clear fluids and taking pain killers.
- Stomach pain in belly button due to overstretching the body for example can be managed through cessation of stretching exercise until the pain gets relieved.
Medications are also available to help relieve the pain and reduce inflammation if pain is caused by an ongoing inflammation. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen may be given depending on which medication the patient can tolerate or which the patient has no allergic reaction.
Treatment options for appendicitis will depend on whether the appendix is ruptured or not. Cure for a ruptured appendix may include endoscopy (laparoscopic surgery) which helps remove the pus through laparoscope and irrigates the appendix. There is also surgical removal of appendix after 4 to 6 weeks. Treatment of Appendix That Is Not Ruptured is the surgical removal of appendix
Treatment options for irritable bowel syndrome include dietary changes, medication, stress reduction, behavioral therapy, and alternative therapy. You may need to try just one, or you may need a combination of treatments.
Avoid trigger foods such as chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, the artificial sweetener sorbitol (found in sugarless gum and mints), and fructose (the simple sugar found in honey and many fruits). These can worsen diarrhea symptoms. Your eating history can help you determine if any of these are triggers for your symptoms.
Video on Navel and Abdominal Pain
Sources and references:
- WebMD: Umbilical-hernia-in-children-topic-overview.
- MedGuidance: Smelly-Belly-Button.html
- The Bump: Why Is My Belly Button So Sore?
- NHS: Endometriosis symptoms
- com: 9 Symptoms of Appendicitis
- The American Diabetes Association: DKA (Ketoacidosis) & Ketones