HomeTop StoriesNavel Gazing What Your Belly Button Can Reveal About Your Health

Navel Gazing What Your Belly Button Can Reveal About Your Health

Navels, commonly known as belly buttons, can tell us more about our health than we might think. For some, belly buttons are a source of dread due to omphalophobia (fear of belly buttons), while for others, they are a fashion statement. Regardless, the navel is a significant remnant of our connection to our mothers.

The umbilical cord, cut at birth, leaves behind a small stump that withers and falls off, usually resulting in an “innie” belly button for most people. This small depression once served as a crucial connection for blood vessels carrying nutrients and oxygen to the fetus.

Medical Significance of the Umbilicus

Even after birth, the navel can be medically significant. It can be used for infusions or blood samples in newborns, and its structure can sometimes lead to umbilical hernias, where intestines protrude through a weakness in the abdominal wall.

Sister Mary Joseph Dempsey, a 19th-century nurse, noted that some cancer patients developed nodules in their navels. This nodule, later named Sister Mary Joseph’s nodule, indicated metastatic cancer. Although less common today due to early cancer detection, it remains a critical diagnostic sign.

Another health indicator linked to the navel is caput medusae. This condition, named after the snake-haired Medusa from Greek mythology, involves dilated veins around the navel due to high pressure in the liver’s portal vein, often caused by liver disease.

Accumulated debris and dead skin in the navel can harden over time, forming umbilical stones, or omphaloliths. Though rare, they are another example of how the navel can signal underlying health issues.

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