There are a number of reasons for a bloated stomach or abdominal bloating.
These include fluid retention, irritable bowel syndrome, and infection.
However, in most cases, a bloated stomach is harmless and you can easily treat it at home.
Bloated stomach or abdominal bloating is an uncomfortable, full feeling in the belly area.
Moreover, it can be alarming, especially when painful.
Your abdomen can look larger than usual or be shaped abnormally.
Furthermore, you can also have piercing abdominal pain. Yet in most cases, it can be just indigestion or gas building up in the stomach or gut.
In most cases, bloating is not a cause of concern if it is associated with food or eating, does not get worse, and goes away within a day or 2.
Keep on reading to learn more about a bloated stomach.
Bloated Stomach Causes
Bloated stomach or abdominal bloating is common.
In most cases, you may experience the same type of bloating again and again.
Normally, bloating that follows a predictable pattern is not a cause of concern.
However, when the pattern changes or bloating becomes worse than expected, it can be due to different conditions.
It can occur when your gastrointestinal or GI tract is filled with air or gas.
You may describe it as feeling full, light, or swollen in the abdomen.
Moreover, your abdomen can swell, distend, harden, and can also be painful.
Bloating is also accompanied by:
- excessive gas or flatulence
- frequent burping or belching
- abdominal rumbling or gurgles
It is important to note that a bloated stomach can interfere with your ability to work and participate in social or recreational activities.
A bloated stomach tends to be common among adults and children.
Let’s learn about the causes in detail:
A Bloated Stomach due to Gas
A buildup of gas in your stomach and intestines is among the most common causes of a bloated stomach.
While other symptoms are:
- frequent burping
- passing too much gas
- feeling a sudden urge to pass stool
- feeling nauseous
Moreover, bloating that occurs due to gas can cause mild discomfort up to intense pain.
In some cases, people also describe the feeling as if there is something trapped inside their stomach.
Possible causes of gas include consuming certain foods like carbonated beverages, dairy, beans, cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage.
Swallowing air when eating or chewing gum, a stomach infection, chronic illness like celiac disease or irritable bowel syndrome, IBS, and indigestion can cause gas.
In most cases, however, gas goes away on its own after a few hours.
Ingestion causing a Bloated Stomach
Indigestion or dyspepsia is a discomfort or pain in the stomach that can also include bloating.
In most cases, you can experience brief episodes of indigestion from time to time.
It often occurs due to:
- eating too much
- drinking excessive alcohol
- taking medications that tends to irritate your stomach like iburophen
- a minor stomach infection
It is important to note that frequent indigestion with bloating that does not appear to be associated with food or other apparent causes can be a sign of something more serious.
Potential causes can be a stomach ulcer or stomach cancer.
Infection in the Stomach
Stomach infections can cause bloating which can also occur along with:
- stomach pain
These can occur by bacteria like Escherichia coli or Helicopter pylori, or a viral infection like norovirus or rotavirus.
Moreover, stomach infections tend to go away on their own after a few days.
However, in some cases, it can cause serious dehydration or continue to get worse over several days.
In such cases, you should seek medical advice if bloating coincides with fever, bloody stool, and severe and frequent vomiting.
SIBO and Fluid Retention
Your stomach and intestines are home to different bacteria.
These help your body to digest food.
However, when there is a disturbance in the balance of bacteria, it can lead to an increase in harmful bacteria in the small intestine.
This is Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO.
SIBO can lead to bloating, frequent diarrhea, and difficulties digesting food and absorbing nutrients.
Moreover, these chronic symptoms can also lead to osteoporosis or weight loss in some people.
On the other hand, salty food, changes in hormone levels, and food intolerances can cause your body to hold more fluid than it would otherwise.
For instance, women may become bloated right before their periods on early in pregnancy.
Chronic bloating that occurs by fluid retention can also have more serious causes.
These can be liver or kidney failure, or diabetes.
If bloating does not go away, you should speak with your doctor.
Food Intolerances and Chronic Disorders causing a Bloated Stomach
In some cases, you can have a bloated stomach after eating certain foods.
If you are among people with lactose intolerance, gluten allergy, or celiac disease, then you can have a bloated stomach.
Bloating can also be linked to diarrhea or stomach pain.
However, it tends to go away by removing the problem-causing food.
While diseases like Crohn’s disease and IBS can also produce bloating.
Crohn’s disease is a digestive tract inflammation and has a certain course and treatment.
In contrast, the cause of IBS is unknown and is often diagnosed when there is no specific reason for the symptoms one experiences.
Both IBS and Crohn’s disease can gas:
Also, if you experience unexplained weight loss, you are more likely to have Crohn’s disease.
Gastroparesis causing Bloating
Gastroparesis is a disorder that affects your regular stomach emptying.
As a result, the nerves that regulate stomach motion stop working correctly, which causes food to pass much more slowly through the stomach and intestines.
Symptoms of this condition are:
- feeling full quickly when eating
- loss of appetite
- nausea and vomiting
- pain and discomfort
Diseases like diabetes or hypothyroidism, in some cases, can cause gastroparesis.
Other Causes of a Bloated Stomach
Some other causes of a bloated stomach are:
Some gynecological disorders can cause bloating like the monthly period or menopause.
Moreover, endometriosis in which the womb lining attaches to the stomach or intestines can cause bloating, cramping, and stomach pain.
Also, women with early ovarian cancer can also have a bloated stomach as the only symptom of a problem.
However, weight gain, constipation, and pain can also occur.
Bloating can begin when food contents build up in the gut and causes constipation.
It can come from dehydration, not enough fiber in diet, food intolerance, pregnancy, certain bowel disorders, nutrient deficiencies like magnesium, and certain medicines.
In most cases, laxatives, exercises, drinking water, or changing the diet can help to resolve the episodes of constipation and bloating.
In rare cases, abdominal bloating can occur due to other serious conditions.
If you have gallstones or gallbladder disease, you can experience intense abdominal pain that mimics bloating.
Moreover, ascites, a pool of fluid in the abdominal cavity is another condition that leads to abdominal pain and bloating.
The most common cause of this condition of the fluid build is liver disease.
Bloating can often be safely treated at home by using lifestyle changes, home remedies, or over-the-counter, OTC medications.
Moreover, keeping a food diary to monitor bloating is also helpful as it aids in diagnosing food intolerances and making healthy lifestyle changes.
A number of people fund that avoiding certain foods can help prevent bloating and other gastrointestinal health issues.
Some options are:
- drinking more water
- reducing sodium intake in the diet
- eliminating foods that cause bloating
- chewing food slowly
- eliminating chewing gum
- exercising regularly.
While some home remedies you can try are:
- eating peppermint
- drinking a mixture of baking soda and water
- drinking apple cider vinegar
- applying a heating pad to the stomach
OTC and Prescription Medications
OTC medications for a bloated stomach are:
Antigas Products to break up gas pockets, i.e. simethicone.
Food Supplements to break down problem proteins or sugars, i.e. Beano, Lactaid
Antacids to calm excess acids, i.e. Tums, Mylanta, Maalox.
Bismuth Salicylate to inhibit bacterial infection, i.e. Pepto-Bismol.
Laxative to relieve constipation, i.e. Ducolax or Senakot.
Rectal Suppository or Enema to have bowel movements, i.e. Flee.
Your doctor can also prescribe prescription medications like:
- antispasmodics to relax the muscles and help relieve bloating
- certain antibiotics in case of IBS or bacterial overgrowth in the abdomen
- prokinetics to help speed up digestion which can help reduce bloating
- certain antidepressants like citalopram to help reduce bloating
When to See a Doctor?
In rare cases, bloating is a sign of something more serious.
You should see a doctor for bloating or gas if you experience:
- intense pain
- a fever
- bloody stools
- vomiting that lasts longer than 24 hours
- a physical injury like a punch to the stomach or a car accident
- rapid swelling of the abdomen.
Moreover, difficulty keeping food down, surgery, rapid swelling of the abdomen, liver, or kidney failure are some conditions when you should seek medical advice.
A bloated stomach can be upsetting and painful. There are simple causes of abdominal bloating like gas, constipation, indigestion, food intolerances, and fluid retention. You can easily treat these symptoms with simple home remedies, and lifestyle changes.
While OTC medications and prescription medications can also help. For most people, the cause can be treated at home and is pretty simple. You should speak with your doctor if the symptoms worsen or do not go away after a few days.
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