By Medicover Hospitals / 11 Feb 2021
Abdominal bloating is a symptom that may appear at any age, associated with functional gastrointestinal disorders or organic diseases, but may also occur on its own.
- What is abdominal bloating?
- When to visit a Doctor?
- Home Remedies and Prevention
What is abdominal bloating?
Bloating occurs in your abdomen (stomach). It occurs when your gastrointestinal (GI) tract is filled with air or gas. It is a condition where your belly feels full and tight, often due to gas. Many people tell me that they are bloated simply because their tummy sticks out and they don't like the way it looks.
When you are bloated, you feel like you have eaten a large meal and there is no room in your stomach. Your stomach feels full and tight. It can be uncomfortable or painful. Your stomach may appear larger.
The swelling is usually accompanied by:
Abdominal bloating may interfere with your ability to work and participate in social or recreational activities. Swelling is common in both adults and children.
- Excess gas (flatulence)
- Frequent burping or belching
- Abdominal noises or gurgling
Gas is the most common cause of bloating, particularly after eating. Gas builds up in the digestive tract when undigested food is broken down or when you swallow air. Everyone swallows air when they're eating or drinking. But some people may swallow more than others, especially if they are:
Belching and flatulence are two ways that swallowed air leaves the body. Delayed stomach emptying (slow gas transport) besides gas buildup can also cause bloating and abdominal distension.
- Eating or drinking too fast
- Chewing gum
- Wear loose dentures
ndigestion, sometimes called dyspepsia, is an upset or pain in the stomach. Most people experience short episodes of indigestion from time to time.
It is often caused by:
- Eat too much
- Excessive alcohol
- Medications that irritate the stomach, such as ibuprofen
- A small stomach infection
Other causes of swelling can be because of medical conditions. These include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease
- Other functional gastrointestinal disorders (GFRD)
- Food intolerance
- Weight gain
- Hormonal flow (especially for women)
- Giardiasis (infection by intestinal parasites)
- Mental health factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, and more
- Some medications
Stomach infections can produce gas, which can also be accompanied by:
They are often caused by bacteria such as Escherichia coli or Helicobacter pylori, or by viral infections such as norovirus or rotavirus. Stomach infections usually go away on their own after a couple of days. However, some people can become severely dehydrated or continue to get worse for several days. These people should see a doctor if the swelling coincides with:
- Stomach pain
- Bloody stools
- Severe and frequent vomiting
Eating salty foods, having food intolerances, and experiencing changes in hormone levels can cause a person's body to retain more fluid than it would otherwise have. Some women find that they are swollen immediately before having their periods or early in pregnancy.
Some people get bloated after eating certain foods. For example, people who are lactose intolerant or have a gluten allergy or celiac disease. The bloating usually goes away on its own, but it can be related to diarrhea or stomach pain.
Abdominal bloating may also be a symptom of several serious conditions, including:
- The pathological accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity (ascites) as a result of cancer (eg, ovarian cancer), liver disease, kidney failure, or congestive heart failure
- Celiac disease or gluten intolerance
- Pancreatic insufficiency, which impairs digestion because the pancreas cannot produce enough digestive enzymes
- Perforation of the GI tract with leakage of gas, normal bacteria from the GI tract, and other contents into the abdominal cavity
Your doctor can usually diagnose the cause of your swelling through an in-office physical exam. He or she is going to ask you questions about your symptoms. They will want to know if your swelling is occasional or happens all the time.
Complete blood count:
A complete blood count checks the levels of different cells in your blood to rule out infection or check for blood loss.
This looks for urinary infections and other urinary tract disorders. They will probably also verify the pregnancy if you are a woman.
A stool test looks for abnormalities in your stool that could indicate an infection or a problem with your digestive system.
Your doctor may use one or more imaging technologies to look for structural abnormalities in your abdominal organs. These can include radiation images such as:
They may also use another form of imaging, such as an MRI or ultrasound. Ultrasound involves the application of a handheld device that emits sound waves to the surface of the skin to see inside the body.
- Fluoroscopic imaging
- Simple film x-ray
- CT scan
Treatments for abdominal distention and pain will address the underlying condition.
Examples can include antibiotics for infections. If bowel obstruction is a cause, your doctor may encourage bowel rest by decreasing your oral intake.
If there is a deficiency in the movement of the contents within the gastrointestinal tract, your doctor may prescribe medication to stimulate the bowel movement.
When to visit a Doctor?
You probably don't need to see a doctor if you have occasional bloating or gas. But some conditions that cause bloating, gas, and abdominal pain can be very serious and even life-threatening. That's why it's so important to consult your doctor if:
Seek immediate medical attention if:
- Over-the-counter remedies or changes in eating habits don't help
- have unexplained weight loss
- you have no appetite
- have chronic or frequent constipation, diarrhea, or vomiting
- have persistent bloating, gas, or heartburn
- your stools contain blood or mucus
- there have been major changes in your bowel movements
- your symptoms makes it difficult for you to function
- abdominal pain is severe
- the diarrhea is severe
- you have chest pain
- you have a high fever
Home Remedies and Prevention:
Quick tips to get rid of swelling
Go for a walk:
Physical activity can cause the intestines to move more regularly, which can help to release excess gas and stool.
Try yoga postures:
Certain yoga poses may position the muscles of the abdomen in a manner that promotes the release of excess gas from the gastrointestinal tract. This can reduce swelling.
Take a warm bath, soaking and relaxing:
The heat from the bath can ease abdominal pain. Relaxation can reduce stress levels, which can allow the gastrointestinal tract to function more effectively and help reduce bloating.
Increase the fiber gradually:
When increasing your fiber intake, it is best to start slowly and increase your intake over several weeks to allow the body to adjust to this change in diet.
Replace soft drinks with water:
Sugars or artificial sweeteners in the diet may also cause gas and bloating. Drinking water eliminates these problems and also helps treat constipation.
Avoid chewing gum:
Sugar alcohols in chewing gum can cause some people to bloat. Swallowing air while chewing can also lead to bloating and gas pain.
Eat at regular intervals:
Many people experience bloating right after a big meal. You can avoid this by eating several smaller meals each day, which can help keep your digestive system moving.
Too much sodium makes the body retain water. This can cause a feeling of bloating and bloating in the abdomen and other areas of the body, such as the hands and feet.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Gas is the most common cause of bloating, particularly after eating. . Gas builds up in the digestive tract when undigested food is broken down or when you swallow air.
Bloating, nausea and fatigue can occur due to a wide range of causes. Temporary explanations may include eating rich or salty foods, overeating, or short-term stress.
Coffee can cause temporary bloating. Coffee of any kind "can over-excite the digestive tract and can stimulate spasms in the gut that cause bloating." Fortunately, the swelling is temporary.
Bloating or fullness, fatigue, increased gas flow, and muscle weakness. Some causes are irritation of the intestines or indigestion.
Science Direct - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S001650850501348X
Europe PMC - https://europepmc.org/article/med/7970340
Wiley Online Library - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2036.2011.04637.x