Pain Around Belly Button: Should You Be Worried?

Pain Around Belly Button: Should You Be Worried?

July 19, 2019

Pain is your body’s defensive mechanism that warns you to act. Here’s a list of causes of pain around the belly button.

The belly button is in your umbilical region of the abdomen and this type of pain is also called periumbilical pain. Your umbilical region also includes part of your stomach, both small and large intestine and the pancreas. There are many conditions that can cause pain around the belly button that you should be worried about.



One of the common causes of pain around the belly button is gastroenteritis or stomach flu. You will have pain because stomach and intestines are inflamed. It is either caused by a viral or bacterial infection but the most common are rotavirus and norovirus. You need to watch out for dehydration which is dangerous to infants, young children, and older adults. It can transfer if you have contact with someone with the virus, ingesting contaminated food or water, and unwashed hands after bathroom use or changing diapers.

Symptoms of Gastroenteritis: watery diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, stomach pain, fever, headache



Pain around the belly can also be a sign of appendicitis, it is an inflammation of the appendix. This is a medical emergency if the appendix is not surgically removed because the appendix can rupture and will lead to a life-threatening situation. There will be a sharp pain along the navel to the right lower abdomen.

Symptoms of Appendicitis: fever, bloating, nausea or vomiting, pain that worsens with certain movements, constipation or diarrhea, loss of appetite


Peptic Ulcer Disease

Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop inside the intestinal lining, the upper part of the small intestine and lower esophagus is another cause of pain around the belly button. Its other names are a stomach ulcer, gastric ulcer, and duodenal ulcers depending where the sores develop. It can be caused by an infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria or prolong use of ibuprofen or aspirin.

Symptoms of Peptic Ulcer: burning pain around the belly area, bloating, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite and weight loss, vomiting of blood, melena or foul-smelling stool


Acute Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is another cause of pain around the belly button due to the inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is a gland in the abdomen that functions to help digestion and regulates blood sugar levels in the body. The pain can be mild, moderate or severe but subsides within a few days.

Acute Pancreatitis is caused by gallstones or excessive alcohol intake but it can also be hereditary. A severe type can be life-threatening because parts of the pancreas may die. Longer hospitalization or possible intensive care is needed if you have moderate to severe acute pancreatitis. For mild acute pancreatitis, treatment involves short hospitalization wherein fluids are given intravenously.


  • Low blood pressure
  • Damage to other organs
  • Infection
  • Pancreatic pseudocyst

Symptoms of Acute Pancreatitis: upper abdominal pain that radiates to the back, fever, rapid pulse, nausea, vomiting, abdomen tenderness, symptoms of respiratory failure, hypotension, confusion, or coma


Umbilical Hernia

Umbilical hernia type is common to babies but can also occur in adults and can cause pain around the belly button. It is painless in children but very painful in adults. Happens to babies when the abdominal muscle opening that connects umbilical cord does not close completely. Umbilical hernia correction is by surgery to avoid intestinal obstruction complications.


Umbilical Hernia Symptoms: severe abdominal pain and tenderness, fever, constipation, nausea and vomiting, a bulge on the abdomen, redness or any discoloration around the bulge


Small Bowel Obstruction

The small bowel is another name of the small intestine, it is connected to the stomach on one end and the big intestine on the other end. The small intestine contains three parts, the duodenum, the jejunum, and the ileum. It performs the function of chemical digestion and absorption of nutrients from food through its inner lining into the bloodstream. Small bowel obstruction may either be partial or complete. If there is an obstruction in the small intestine, then it prevents waste matter and gases to enter the big intestine.

Causes of Small Bowel obstruction

  • Abdominal Adhesions: A previous abdominal or pelvic surgery may form a band of tissue scars. This abdominal adhesion can twist, pull the intestines, and make tissues and organs stick together causing the obstruction.
  • HerniasWeakened muscle lining is susceptible to segments of the intestines to pass through creating bulge obstructing the bowel.
  • Inflammatory bowel disorders (IBD): IBD like Crohn’s disease and diverticulitis may lead to complications in the small intestines obstructions due to narrowing of the bowel and abnormal tunnel-like openings.
  • Cancerous tumors: This is an uncommon cause but the spread of tumors can obstruct the bowel.

Symptoms of Small Bowel Obstruction: Stomach cramps and pain, bloating, vomiting, nausea, dehydration, malaise, lack of appetite, severe constipation


Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm or AAA

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm is an enlargement of the abdominal aorta, there is no symptom except when it ruptures. A life-threatening condition if it raptures due to internal bleeding. The aorta is a major blood vessel that runs from your heart, chest and to abdomen dividing blood supply to your torso. Its exact cause is not known, the enlargement is linked with weakness of inflamed aorta walls and atherosclerosis. It is often identified during a routine medical check.

Risk Factors

  • Age 65 and up
  • Being white and male
  • Hardening of the arteries
  • Tobacco use
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history

Symptoms of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: aortic aneurysm develops slowly and unnoticed, when enlarged there is back pain, deep abdominal pain, a pulse near the belly button

Symptoms of Ruptured Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: abdominal or back pain that is sudden, intense and persistent in nature, low blood pressure, fast pulse, breathing difficulty, fainting


Mesenteric Ischemia

Mesenteric ischemia is an interruption of blood flow to the intestines caused by either a blood clot or embolism and is fatal. This is a severe pain around the belly button that needs immediate medical attention.

Symptoms of Mesenteric Ischemia: aside from the initial severe pain, there is an increase in heart rate, bloody stool

There is a long list of possible causes of pain around the belly button that you should be worried about. Some may be common that will just go away but there are also causes that is life-threatening if left on its own. It is still best to have yourself checked by your doctor for your severe pain and other related symptoms.

Pain Around Belly Button: Should You Be Worried?