Abdominal bloating is an uncomfortable, feeling heavy in the belly region and can be distressing, particularly when painful. The abdomen can look bloated, larger than usual. Some people may also have throbbing abdominal pain. However, most times, it may be just caused by indigestion or gas formation in the stomach.
Typically, bloating is not a concern if it:
- Is related to food or eating
- Do not get aggravated with time
- Settles away within a day or so
What Is Bloating?
Bloating is a common digestive symptom categorized by a feeling of fullness, stiffness, or swelling in the stomach region. It can be uncomfortable and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as gas, abdominal pain, and changes in bowel habits. Bloating can result from several causes, and its treatment depends on the underlying cause.
Read this article to learn about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for bloating:
Causes Of Bloating:
Gas-Producing Foods: Certain foods can cause the production of gas in the digestive system. Examples include beans, lentils, broccoli, cabbage, carbonated beverages, and artificial sweeteners.
Overeating: Consuming large meals or eating too quickly can lead to bloating.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): A common digestive disorder characterized by abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, and bloating.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Conditions like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis can cause chronic bloating and other digestive symptoms.
Gastric Outlet Obstruction: A blockage in the stomach or small intestine can lead to bloating and vomiting.
Gastroparesis: It is a disorder that affects regular emptying of the stomach. The nerves that regulate the movement of the stomach stop working well, which results in food passing very slowly through the stomach and intestine.
Gynaecological Issues: Certain gynaecological problems can cause bloating like menstrual cycle or menopause. Further, endometriosis can also cause bloating, cramping and stomach pain.
Constipation: Bloating also starts when food contents build up in the stomach due to constipation.
Lactose Intolerance: The inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in dairy products, can lead to gas and bloating.
Fructose Intolerance: Difficulty digesting fructose, found in fruits and some sweeteners, can cause bloating.
Swallowing Air: Eating or drinking too quickly, drinking through straws, or chewing gum can introduce excess air into the digestive system.
Symptoms of Bloating:
- The feeling of fullness and abdominal tightness
- Excessive gas (flatulence)
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Burping or belching
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Cramping or gurgling sounds in the abdomen
The treatment for bloating depends on its underlying cause. Here are some general strategies to alleviate bloating:
Identify Trigger Foods: Keep a food diary to identify foods that exacerbate your symptoms and try to avoid them.
Add Fibre: Gradually increase your fibre intake through fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, but do so slowly to prevent gas.
Probiotics: Consider incorporating probiotic-rich foods like yogurt or taking probiotic supplements to promote gut health.
Avoid Gassy Foods: Reduce consumption of gas-producing foods and carbonated beverages.
Eat Slowly: Chew your food thoroughly and eat mindfully.
Smaller Meals: Have smaller, frequent meals rather than three large meals.
Hydration: Drink plenty of water to aid digestion.
Antacids or over-the-counter anti-gas medications may provide relief for some people.
Address Underlying Conditions:
If you suspect an underlying gastrointestinal condition like IBS or IBD, consult a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Stress can exacerbate digestive symptoms, so stress management techniques like yoga, meditation, or counselling may help.
In some cases, prescription medications may be required to manage underlying conditions causing bloating.
Following some of these natural remedies may also help to avert bloating.
Having peppermint tea or infusion offers respite from bloating.
Drinking a blend of baking soda and water may be beneficial.
Drinking apple cider vinegar may also help.
Applying a heating pad to the stomach may help to ease the pain.
Seek medical help if you experience chronic or severe bloating, mainly if it’s accompanied by other troubling symptoms such as sudden weight loss, blood in the stool, or persistent pain. Your healthcare provider can identify the root cause and provide an appropriate treatment plan.