Everyone experiences abdominal bloating at some point, whether it is after enjoying a large meal, or due to gastrointestinal illness. While some bloating is temporary and innocuous, others are serious and require professional medical intervention. What are some of the things that lead to gas and bloating, and how can you avoid painful bloating in the future?
What is Abdominal Bloating?
Bloating refers to a sensation of fullness and tightness in your stomach. Depending on the causes behind your discomfort, you might experience painful or minor discomfort. In some cases, weight gain or abdominal wall leniency can be mistaken for abdominal bloating.
If you are experiencing any type of abdominal bloating, you are not alone. On average, between 10-25% of people report bloating on an occasional basis. Approximately 10% of people experience it regularly. Additionally, about 75% of women have gas and bloating as part of their pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) and menstruation symptoms.
What Are the Causes of Abdominal Bloating?
Abdominal bloating is exceedingly uncomfortable, and it can take a toll on your quality of life if you experience it for extended periods of time. Below is a list of common causes for abdominal bloating.
- Increased sodium intake, which can lead to water retention and bloating
- Too many low-quality carbohydrates, such as sugary pastries, candy, sodas, and bread can cause swelling as they enter the bloodstream
- Too many carbonated drinks, such as soda and seltzer
- Excessive gas in your digestive system
- Carbohydrate malabsorption
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive disorders
- Visceral hypersensitivity, which is when you feel that you are excessively bloated or gassy despite having a normal volume of gas
- Bowel obstructions
- Weight gain of 10 lbs. or more
- Consuming dairy if you are lactose intolerant
- Menstruation, as bloating is a common symptom of PMS and menstruation
- Celiac disease, or gluten intolerance, can attack your intestinal lining that leads to gas, stomach pain, gastrointestinal distress, and abdominal bloating
- Gastroparesis, a disease that prevents your stomach from emptying properly after you eat
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
How Can You Avoid Abdominal Bloating?
If you are experiencing gas and bloating, there are numerous lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your symptoms, even if you have a condition like gastroparesis. Some of the ways to avoid bloating include:
- Choosing a low Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols (FODMAP) diet or one that consciously avoids a variety of gas-producing foods like yogurt, wheat, onions, pears, apricots, and more
- Eating enough fiber throughout the day
- Exercising regularly
- Having a professional diagnosis for gastroparesis or another disease that causes gas and bloating and taking the associated medication from your doctor
- Avoiding chewing gum, as it can lead you to swallow air and introduce more gas into your system
- Limiting your consumption of soda, seltzer water, and other carbonated drinks
- Choosing lactose-free milk and yogurt or use a medication like to help decrease your discomfort after consuming dairy
- Consuming probiotics that can reintroduce healthy bacteria into your gut
When Should You Seek Medical Care for Bloating?
In some cases, your abdominal bloating may go away on its own. For example, if you are bloated after a large meal, it should cease once your body has had time to digest and pass a bowel movement. However, there are some signs that indicate you might have a severe condition like gastroparesis, and you should seek professional medical care.
Commonplace bloating causes, like overeating or lactose consumption, do not require a visit to the doctor. Painful bloating or gas and bloating symptoms that are not alleviated within 48 hours are reasons to visit the doctor. Some of the other indicators you should visit a healthcare provider include the following:
- You believe that you might be dealing with a food allergy or intolerance
- You are experiencing severe constipation and have been unable to use the bathroom for multiple days
- You are experiencing symptoms that are connected to exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, including a loss of appetite, foul-smelling stools, pale stools, weight loss of 10% or more, malnutrition, or stools that float or are sticky
- You have noticed consistent changes to the quality or nature of your bowel movements
- You have a fever
- You are vomiting
- Your bloating is making it hard for you to continue living your life normally
Because bloating can sometimes indicate something much more severe, it is essential to seek medical care if you are experiencing the symptoms listed above or fear something is wrong.
How Can You Receive a Diagnosis for Bloating?
When you visit the doctor, they will perform various tests and ask questions to help pinpoint your diagnosis. Some of the diagnostic tests and questions that are commonly used by clinicians include:
- Examining past and current history of prescription medications, vitamins, and supplements
- Considering past surgical history
- Timing of symptoms and any noticeable connections between the symptoms and other activities, like eating certain foods
- Bowel movement information, tests, and habits
- Breath tests to help pinpoint a potential SIBO diagnosis
- Upper endoscopy when severe symptoms are present, like vomiting, anemia, rapid weight loss, or nausea
- Abdominal imaging
Your healthcare professional will work with you and any other members of your care team to ensure that you receive an accurate diagnosis so that you can find the right solution for your bloating.
What Things Can Ease Bloating Symptoms?
Outside of medication that you receive from your healthcare provider, there are a variety of tools that can be used to ease bloating symptoms, including:
- Herbal teas that contain chamomile, ginger, fennel, or turmeric to help with proper digestion
- Antacids to help pass gas and reduce inflammation
- Probiotics to regulate your stomach bacteria
- Psyllium husks to add to your diet as a fiber supplement and help you be more regular with your bowel movements
- Heating pad to help relax stomach muscles that might be tight or sore
- Over-the-counter gas relief medications
- Warm bath
- Drink water instead of carbonated drinks
Ease the Discomfort of Bloating with TopLine MD Alliance
While bloating is common in both men and women, it can be the result of a variety of conditions that are both mild and serious. If your gas is not naturally going away or you are experiencing some of the symptoms above, you may need a trustworthy healthcare professional to evaluate your situation. TopLine MD Alliance connects patients just like you with primary care doctors and specialists who can help you say goodbye to bloating.
To schedule an appointment today, click the free ‘Find a Provider’ button that you see above. This tool makes it easier than ever to find a doctor near you that specializes in working with patients who experience bloating. Every TopLine MD Alliance affiliated physician is understanding, compassionate, and knowledgeable. You do not need to live with the discomfort of abdominal bloating any longer.
The TopLine MD Alliance is an association of independent physicians and medical practice groups who are committed to providing a higher standard of healthcare services. The members of the TopLine MD Alliance have no legal or financial relationship with one another. The TopLine MD Alliance brand has no formal corporate, financial or legal ties to any of the affiliated physicians or practice groups.