Symptoms A-Z

Pain Around The Belly Button Symptom, Causes & Questions

Understand your pain around the belly button symptoms, including 10 causes & common questions.

This symptom can also be referred to as: peri-umbilical pain

An image depicting a person suffering from pain around the belly button symptoms

Pain Around The Belly Button Symptom Checker

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Contents

  1. Symptoms
  2. Causes
  3. 10 Possible Conditions
  4. Treatments and Relief
  5. FAQs
  6. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  7. Statistics
  8. References

Pain Around The Belly Button Symptoms

Although the abdomen is divided into four main quadrants, the belly button (navel or umbilicus) is difficult to place into one specific section. As a result, pain around the belly button (periumbilical pain) may also feel like pain in the lower right or left quadrants. Depending on the severity and the associated characteristics, pain around the belly button may be caused by a variety of issues of surrounding structures or the digestive system.

Characteristics

In addition to pain, associated symptoms may include:

Pain Around The Belly Button Causes

Causes of pain around the belly button are often the result of pathology within the organs of the lower abdomen [2]. The organs in this area include:

  • Cecum: This is a small sac at the end of the large intestine that absorbs fluids and salts that remain after completion of digestion.
  • Appendix: This is a hollow tube attached to the cecum that serves an important immunological role in the fetus and in young adults.
  • Ascending colon: This part of the large intestine.
  • Right ovary and Fallopian tube: These are reproductive organs in women.
  • Right ureter: This is a long, thin tube that transports urine from the kidney to the bladder.

See this image here for a visual representation.

Inflammatory

Inflammatory causes of pain around the belly button may be related to the following.

  • Infectious: Infection or inflammation of the organs in the lower abdomen around the belly the abdomen can cause pain in these areas. The appendix is a very common cause of pain that begins in the belly button and travels into the lower right abdomen [1,4]. However, such symptoms can also occur when the urinary tract becomes infected as well.
  • Autoimmune: Conditions in which the body attacks itself, especially those that primarily affect the gastrointestinal tract (inflammatory bowel diseases), can result in similar pain and its associated symptoms.

Obstructive

Obstructive causes of pain around the belly button may be related to the following.

  • Large intestine: The colon (also known as the large intestine) is an extremely long organ that is folded upon itself in the human body. As a result, any particularly weak parts of the colon can be exposed to extreme pressure. Other parts of the colon can break through these weak spots and push through the muscle and surrounding tissue. This condition is called a hernia. Hernias can occur in any part of the abdomen but the pain is most often felt in the lower abdomen around the navel.

  • Small intestine: This is a blockage in the small intestine that can be caused by scar tissue, cancer, and also hernias [3]. The blockage prevents material from moving forward and causes the bowel behind the blockage to become large, dilated and filled with fluid. This can result in symptoms such as cramping and constipation in addition to pain around the belly button.

Digestive

The acid that the stomach makes to digest food can irritate the components of the digestive tract, including the lower abdomen around the belly button. Furthermore, gas found throughout the digestive tract can also cause transient pain and discomfort in these areas as well.

10 Possible Pain Around The Belly Button Conditions

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced pain around the belly button. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Indigestion (dyspepsia)

Indigestion, also called upset stomach, dyspepsia, or functional dyspepsia, is not a disease but a collection of very common symptoms. Note: Heartburn is a separate condition.

Common causes are eating too much or too rapidly; greasy or spicy foods; overdoing caffeine, alcohol, or carbonated beverages; smoking; and anxiety. Some antibiotics, pain relievers, and vitamin/mineral supplements can cause indigestion.

The most common symptoms are pain, discomfort, and bloating in the upper abdomen soon after eating.

Indigestion that lasts longer than two weeks, and does not respond to simple treatment, may indicate a more serious condition. Upper abdominal pain that radiates to the jaw, neck, or arm is a medical emergency.

Diagnosis is made through patient history and physical examination. If the symptoms began suddenly, laboratory tests on blood, breath, and stool may be ordered. Upper endoscopy or abdominal x-ray may be done.

For functional dyspepsia – "ordinary" indigestion – treatment and prevention are the same. Eating five or six smaller meals per day with lighter, simpler food; managing stress; and finding alternatives for some medications will provide relief.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: nausea, stomach bloating, dyspeptic symptoms, bloating after meals, vomiting

Symptoms that always occur with indigestion (dyspepsia): dyspeptic symptoms

Symptoms that never occur with indigestion (dyspepsia): vomiting (old) blood or passing tarry stools, rectal bleeding, bloody diarrhea, fever

Urgency: Self-treatment

Appendicitis

Appendicitis refers to inflammation of the appendix, a small finger-like structure in the lower right corner of the belly. Appendicitis is extremely common, occurring in about five to 10 percent of people at some point in their lifetime. While it can occur at any age, the most commonly affected groups are adolescents and young adults.

Severe abdominal pain and nausea are the most common symptoms, often accompanied by vomiting and possible fever.

Untreated appendicitis can be life-threatening, therefore, it is usually considered a surgical emergency and remains one of the most common reasons for urgent abdominal surgery. In some hospitals, low-risk cases of appendicitis are managed with antibiotics alone rather than surgery, though surgery remains the gold standard treatment in much of the world.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: abdominal pain (stomach ache), nausea, pelvis pain, loss of appetite, diarrhea

Symptoms that always occur with appendicitis: abdominal pain (stomach ache)

Symptoms that never occur with appendicitis: pain in the upper right abdomen, pain in the upper left abdomen, anxiety, pain below the ribs, improving abdominal pain, headache

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Acute gastritis

When something interferes with the protective mechanisms of the stomach, a range of problems can occur from mild indigestion to deadly bleeding ulcers. Gastritis is an umbrella term for one of the most common problems, inflammation of the stomach lining.

Symptoms include nausea or vomiting, a loss of appetite, belly pain, bloating and vomiting or passing blood in severe cases.

While chronic gastritis can be a lifelong affliction, acute gastritis clears up within days to weeks of onset.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: nausea or vomiting, nausea, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, mild abdominal pain

Symptoms that never occur with acute gastritis: fever

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Viral (norovirus) infection

If you ever heard of an entire cruise ship of people coming down with the same "stomach bug," chances are that was norovirus. Fortunately, norovirus usually goes away on its own after a few days, but is pretty unpleasant and can spread extremely easily. The main symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea, which can be severe enough to require hydration with intravenous fluids. However, other treatments are rarely necessary. In the developing world where access to supportive care is less available, norovirus infection is still responsible for tens of thousands of deaths each year, primarily due to dehydration.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: diarrhea, vomiting or nausea, fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain (stomach ache), headache

Symptoms that always occur with viral (norovirus) infection: diarrhea, vomiting or nausea

Symptoms that never occur with viral (norovirus) infection: severe abdominal pain, throbbing headache, severe headache, tarry stool, vaginal bleeding, alertness level change

Urgency: Self-treatment

Viral (rotavirus) infection

Rotavirus infection is a contagious gastrointestinal virus that most often affects babies, toddlers, and young children. It causes severe watery diarrhea, sometimes with vomiting and fever.

Adults may also be infected, though usually with milder symptoms.

Rotavirus spreads very quickly when any trace of stool from an infected child contaminates food or drink, or gets onto any surface. If another child consumes the food or drink, or touches the surface and then their mouth, the child will become infected.

Rotavirus in adults does not usually need a trip to the ER unless the degree of dehydration is severe but dehydration can set in quickly in children and is a medical emergency. A child can die if not treated immediately. Take the child to an emergency room or call 9-1-1.

Treatment consists of drinking fluids or IV fluids in severe cases and supportive care, usually in a hospital. Antibiotics will not help rotavirus because they only work against bacteria.

The best way prevention is frequent and thorough handwashing, as well as washing toys and surfaces when possible. There is now a vaccine that will either prevent rotavirus infection or greatly lessen the symptoms if the child still gets the virus.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: diarrhea, vomiting or nausea, nausea, fatigue, abdominal pain (stomach ache), headache

Symptoms that always occur with viral (rotavirus) infection: diarrhea, vomiting or nausea

Symptoms that never occur with viral (rotavirus) infection: constipation, tarry stool

Urgency: Self-treatment

Pain Around The Belly Button Symptom Checker

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Stomach ulcer

A peptic ulcer is a sore in the lining of the stomach or the first part of your small intestine (the duodenum), which causes pain following meals or on an empty stomach.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, moderate abdominal pain, abdominal cramps (stomach cramps)

Symptoms that never occur with stomach ulcer: pain in the lower left abdomen

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Gall bladder infection (cholecystitis)

Gallbladder infection, also called cholecystitis, means there is a bacterial infection of the gallbladder either with or without gallstones.

The gallbladder is a small organ that stores bile, which helps to digest fats. If something blocks the flow of bile out of the gallbladder – gallstones, damage to the bile ducts, or tumors in the gallbladder – the bile stagnates and bacteria multiplies in it, producing an infected gallbladder.

Risk factors include obesity, a high-fat diet, and a family history of gallstones.

Symptoms include fever; chills; right upper quadrant abdominal pain radiating to the right shoulder; and sometimes nausea and vomiting. A gallbladder infection is an acute (sudden) illness, while the symptoms of gallstones come on gradually.

Untreated cholecystitis can lead to rupture of the gallbladder, which can be life-threatening.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination, ultrasound or other imaging, and blood tests.

Treatment involves hospitalizing the patient for fasting with IV fluids, to rest the gallbladder; antibiotics; and pain medication. Surgery to remove the gallbladder is often done so that the condition cannot recur.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: abdominal pain (stomach ache), nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, constipation

Symptoms that always occur with gall bladder infection (cholecystitis): abdominal pain (stomach ache)

Symptoms that never occur with gall bladder infection (cholecystitis): pain in the upper left abdomen, pain in the lower left abdomen

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Intestinal inflammation (diverticulitis)

Diverticula are small pouches that bulge outward through the colon, or large intestine. Diverticulitis is a condition where the pouches become inflamed or infected, a process which can cause fever, nausea, vomiting, chills, cramping, and constipation.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: abdominal pain (stomach ache), nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, constipation

Symptoms that never occur with intestinal inflammation (diverticulitis): pain below the ribs, pain in the upper right abdomen

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Acute pancreatitis

Acute pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas, which creates and releases insulin and glucagon to keep the sugar levels in your blood stable. It also creates the enzymes that digest your food in the small intestine. When these enzymes accidentally get activated in the pancreas, they digest the pancreas itself, causing pain and inflammation.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: constant abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, being severely ill, severe abdominal pain, fever

Symptoms that always occur with acute pancreatitis: constant abdominal pain

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Normal abdominal pain

The complaint of nonspecific abdominal pain and discomfort, with no apparent cause, is one of the most common in medicine. It is a primary reason for patients to visit a medical provider or the emergency room.

The cause of abdominal pain can be difficult to find, because it can come from many different sources: the digestive tract, the urinary tract, the pancreas, the gall bladder, or the gynecologic organs.

The pain may simply be caused by overly sensitive nerves in the gut. This hypersensitivity can occur after repeated abdominal injury and/or it may have an emotional cause due to fear of the pain itself.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination, patient history, and simply ruling out any other condition. CT scan is often requested, but can rarely find a specific cause. The benefits must be weighed against the risks of radiation.

Treatment first involves making any needed lifestyle improvements regarding diet, exercise, work, and sleep, in order to reduce stress. In some cases, counseling, hypnosis, mild pain relievers, and antidepressants are helpful.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: abdominal pain (stomach ache), vaginal discharge, fever, nausea

Symptoms that always occur with normal abdominal pain: abdominal pain (stomach ache)

Symptoms that never occur with normal abdominal pain: fever, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, severe abdominal pain, unintentional weight loss, vaginal discharge, rectal bleeding

Urgency: Self-treatment

Pain Around The Belly Button Treatments and Relief

Treatment for the pain around your belly button will be dependent on the cause. After your physician makes the appropriate diagnosis, he or she may suggest the following.

  • **Antibiotics or infectious causes, you may be prescribed antibiotics that work to eradicate bacteria that may have spread into the rest of the body.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications: If your symptoms are due to autoimmune conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, your physician may prescribe antibiotics or steroid creams in order to treat your symptoms.
  • Bowel rest: Your physician may suggest a lighter diet that will allow your intestines and digestive system to recover after obstructive or infectious causes of your belly button pain.
  • Surgery: For conditions such as appendicitis, surgery is the first-line option for restoring function, treating symptoms and preventing complications. Removal of the appendix is called an appendectomy.

FAQs About Pain Around The Belly Button

Here are some frequently asked questions about pain around the belly button.

Why does pain start around the belly button in appendicitis?

The pain begins around the belly button because not only is the appendix inflamed but the thin membrane lying over the abdominal organs (peritoneum) is also inflamed. The sensory nerves in this area carry the sensation of inflammation back to the spinal cord and brain, and the brain causes us to feel pain in the middle of the abdomen/belly button. This phenomenon is known as referred pain.

What does the pain of appendicitis feel like?

Take note, symptoms can vary from person to person; however, pain is most commonly felt as dull and aching around the belly button and progresses to become sharp and severe in the lower right abdomen [1].

When will the pain around my belly button resolve?

Resolution of symptoms will depend on the specific cause. For example, inflammatory causes can be both chronic and temporary. In cases such as appendicitis, the pain will resolve with treatment of the inflammation whereas in conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease pain can often recur and be chronic.

Is appendicitis life-threatening?

Acute appendicitis is a medical emergency that requires prompt attention and often surgical treatment. If treated promptly, appendicitis does not often go on to cause major complications [1]. If you experience any of the above symptoms, go to an emergency room as soon as possible.

Does appendicitis happen in adults?

Appendicitis most commonly occurs in children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 20 years old. It is rare in infants but happens periodically in adults [1].

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Pain Around The Belly Button

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Have you experienced any nausea?
  • Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Have you lost your appetite recently?
  • How would you describe the nature of your abdominal pain?

The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

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Pain Around The Belly Button Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced pain around the belly button have also experienced:

  • 13% Nausea
  • 7% Diarrhea
  • 5% Abdominal Pain (Stomach Ache)

People who have experienced pain around the belly button were most often matched with:

  • 54% Appendicitis
  • 36% Acute Gastritis
  • 9% Indigestion (Dyspepsia)

People who have experienced pain around the belly button had symptoms persist for:

  • 41% Less than a day
  • 34% Less than a week
  • 11% Over a month

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Pain Around The Belly Button Symptom Checker

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References

  1. Brogan RJ, eds. Appendicitis. KidsHealth from Nemours. Updated July 2018. KidsHealth Link
  2. Functional abdominal pain in children. American College of Gastroenterology. ACG Link
  3. Baiu I, Hawn MT. Small bowel obstruction. JAMA. 2018;319(20):2146. JAMA Network Link
  4. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Johns Hopkins Medicine Link
  5. Mayo Clinic. Published July 6, 2018. Mayo Clinic Link
  6. What is the function of the human appendix? Did it once have a purpose that has since been lost? Scientific American. Scientific American Link