is a condition in which the abdomen feels uncomfortably full and gaseous, and
may also be visibly swollen (distended). Bloating is a common complaint among
both adults and children.
can interfere with a person’s ability to work and participate in social or
recreational activities. According to the University of North Carolina, when compared with people who don’t have abdominal bloating, sufferers
use more sick days, visit the doctor more often, and take more medications.
What Are the Symptoms of Abdominal Bloating?
The symptoms of
bloating can be vague and difficult to pinpoint, but most people describe an
uncomfortable feeling of fullness, tightness, or swelling in the abdomen. This
can be accompanied by pain, excessive gas (flatulence), frequent burping or
belching, and abdominal rumbling or gurgles.
What Causes Abdominal Bloating?
The most common
causes of abdominal bloating are:
- swallowing air
- irritable bowel
- intolerance to
dairy products or other food items
- eating too fast
- weight gain
- overgrowth of
bacteria in the small bowel
- hormonal flux
(especially PMS for women)
- inflammatory bowel
disease (e.g. ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s)
- some medications
can also be a symptom of several serious conditions, including:
- fluid in the
abdominal cavity (ascites) as a result of cancer, liver disease, kidney
failure, or congestive heart failure
- celiac disease
(wheat gluten intolerance)
- ovarian cancer
insufficiency (impaired digestion because the pancreas cannot produce enough
Treatment Options for Abdominal Bloating
In many cases, the
symptoms of abdominal bloating can be diminished or even prevented by adopting
a few simple lifestyle changes. For example:
- Don’t chew gum. Chewing gum can cause you to
swallow extra air, which in turn can lead to bloating.
- Limit your intake of carbonated drinks.
- Avoid “gassy” foods, such vegetables in the
cabbage family, dried beans, and lentils.
- Eat slowly.
- Avoid drinking through a straw.
- Lose weight if you’re overweight.
- Use lactose-free dairy products (if you are
Consult your doctor
if bloating is accompanied by any of the following:
- abdominal pain
- blood in the stools or dark, tarry looking
- high fevers
- worsening heartburn
- unexplained weight loss