Abdominal bloating occurs when the stomach and intestines are filled with air or gas. Most people describe bloating as fullness, tightness, or swelling in the abdomen. Your abdomen may be swollen (distended), hard, and painful. Bloating is often accompanied by:
excessive gas (flatulence)
frequent burping or burping
Abdominal rumbling or rumbling
Abdominal bloating can prevent you from working, participating in social and recreational activities. Bloating is common in both adults and children.
Why do you feel bloated?
Gas and air
Gas is the most common cause of bloating, especially after eating. When undigested food breaks down or air is swallowed, gas builds up in the digestive tract. Everyone swallows air when they eat or drink. But some people can swallow better than others, especially:
eating or drinking too fast
wearing loose dentures
Bloating and flatulence are two ways that swallowed air is expelled from the body. Delayed gastric emptying (slow gas transport) can cause gas build-up as well as bloating and flatulence.
Other causes of bloating can be due to medical conditions. It includes:
irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
Other Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (FGIDs)
hormonal flow (especially in women)
giardiasis (intestinal parasite infection)
eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia nervosa
mental health factors such as stress, anxiety, and depression
These conditions can cause gas and bloating.
bacterial overgrowth or deficiency in the gastrointestinal tract
bowel movements changed
violation of gas transmission
abnormal abdominal reflexes
visceral hypersensitivity (a feeling of bloating at small or even normal changes in the body)
absorption of food and carbohydrates
Abdominal bloating can be a symptom of several serious diseases, including:
accumulation of abnormal fluid in the abdominal cavity (ascites) as a result of cancer (eg, ovarian cancer), liver disease, kidney failure, or heart failure
celiac disease, or non-cellulosic gluten sensitivity
Pancreatic insufficiency, when the pancreas does not produce sufficient amounts of digestive enzymes, impairs digestion.
Perforation of the gastrointestinal tract, gas, normal intestinal bacteria and other contents flow into the abdominal cavity
Treatment to prevent or relieve bloating
In most cases, if you are overweight, you can reduce or even prevent bloating by making simple lifestyle changes, such as losing weight.
To reduce excessive air swallowing, you can do the following:
Avoid chewing gum. Chewing gum causes you to swallow extra air, which in turn causes bloating.
Limit your intake of carbonated drinks.
Avoid gas-producing foods, cruciferous vegetables, dried beans, and lentils.
Eat slowly and avoid drinking through a straw.
Use lactose-free dairy products (if you are lactose intolerant).
Probiotics help restore healthy gut bacteria. Research on the effectiveness of probiotics is mixed. One review found that probiotics were moderately effective, with a 70 percent effect on bloating. You can find probiotics in kefir and Greek yogurt.
Buy kefir and greek yogurt online.
Talk to your doctor if lifestyle changes and dietary measures don’t help get rid of abdominal cramps. If your doctor discovers a medical cause for your bloating, he or she may recommend medical treatment.
Treatment may require antibiotics, antispasmodics, antidepressants, but it depends on your condition.
When to see a doctor?
Consult your doctor if bloating is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
severe or prolonged abdominal pain
blood in the stool or dark stools
making the heartburn worse
unexplained weight loss
If you don’t have a primary care doctor, you can find doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.