What Is Abdominal Bloating?
Abdominal bloating is an uncomfortable sensation that occurs when gas builds up in the abdomen, causing the stomach to become distended. These episodes can occur after a heavy or light meal and are usually not severe.
However, the condition may be more serious if bloating is accompanied by pain or any of the following symptoms:
- Blood in the stool
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Painful or swollen lymph nodes (including in the groin, throat or armpits)
- Unintentional weight loss
What Causes Abdominal Bloating?
Abdominal bloating may be caused by:
- Eating too fast
- Fluid retention
- Food allergies
- Hormonal changes
- Rich and fatty foods
- Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
- Bowel obstruction
However, it is often caused by chronic conditions, such as functional gastrointestinal disorders. These include:
- Celiac disease, an autoimmune reaction to the ingestion of gluten. This disorder damages the small intestine and causes malabsorption of nutrients in the body
- Functional dyspepsia (indigestion). This condition typically causes recurrent pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), an intestinal disorder which causes gas, diarrhea, constipation and pain in the abdomen. This chronic condition affects the both the small intestine and the large intestine (colon) and is usually long-term
- Ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease affecting the innermost lining of the large intestine and rectum. This disease causes ulcers in the digestive tract
How Is Abdominal Bloating Treated?
Abdominal bloating is often acute in nature. However, chronic abdominal bloating could be an indication of an underlying condition. Therefore, treatment may vary depending upon the primary cause.
If the bloating is acute, it often resolves itself over a short period of time. To avoid future occurrences, there are treatment options, but the majority are preventive in nature.
- Eating a healthy high-fiber diet, including water-rich vegetables and fruits
- Reducing stress
- Staying hydrated
- Taking certain medications
- Taking probiotics
In addition, it is important to avoid certain foods that may increase the bloating sensation. These include:
- Carbonated beverages
- Certain vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, beans)
- Processed grain products
If abdominal bloating becomes chronic, however, contact your physician for further evaluation.