A distended stomach is a term usually used to refer to distension or swelling of the abdomen and not of the stomach itself. When the term is used in this manner, a number of different diseases and conditions can cause abdominal distension. These conditions can be related to digestion, such as malabsorption or lactose intolerance, or to disturbances in bowel function, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or constipation. Bloating is another term that is sometimes used to refer to a swollen belly. Consumption of high-fiber foods can lead to intestinal gas and bloating. Less commonly, ovarian cysts or other types of tumors can cause the appearance of a distended abdomen. The accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity, known as ascites, can cause the appearance of distension. Ascites has a number of causes, including cirrhosis of the liver.
A distended stomach (abdomen) can be associated with other symptoms, including
Related Symptoms & Signs
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
Main Article on Distended Stomach (Abdominal Distention)
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
Celiac Disease Quiz: What Is Celiac Disease?
Could celiac disease be the cause of your tummy troubles? Take the Celiac Disease Quiz to learn what certain foods may be doing...
IBS - Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Symptoms, Diet, Treatment
What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? Learn about symptoms, causes, and foods that trigger IBS. Get lifestyle tips for managing...
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
What are symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? Take this quiz and get quick facts on causes and treatment options for this...
Picture of Stomach
The stomach is a muscular sac located on the left side of the upper abdomen. See a picture of the Stomach and learn more about...
What's Causing Your Abdominal Pain?
Get the facts on the most common causes of abdominal pain. Learn the difference between a stomachache and more serious causes of...
Causes of Distended Stomach (Abdominal Distention)
H. pylori (Helicobacter Pylori ) Infection Symptoms, Test, Treatment
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacteria that causes chronic inflammation (gastritis) of the inner lining of the stomach,...
Ascites, the accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity is most commonly caused by cirrhosis of the liver. Some of the other...
Constipation (Relief, Home Remedies, Treatment Medications)
Constipation is defined medically as fewer than three stools per week and severe constipation as less than one stool per week....
Diverticulitis (Diverticulosis, Diverticular Disease)
Most people with diverticulosis have few if any symptoms at all. When people do experience signs and symptoms of diverticulosis...
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)
Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency or EPI is a condition in which a person's pancreas can't produce or secrete certain enzymes...
Gallstones (Pain, Symptoms, Causes, Diet, and Treatment)
Gallstones are stones that form when substances in the bile harden. Gallstones (formed in the gallbladder) can be as small as...
Giardiasis (Giardia lamblia) is a parasite responsible for a common form of infectious diarrhea. The parasite lives in two...
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a GI (gastrointestinal) disorder with signs and symptoms that include abdominal pain, bloating,...
Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Children (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in children is a functional gastrointestinal disorder with signs and symptoms of: Abdominal...
Lactose intolerance is a common problem where a person's digestive system cannot digest lactose. Signs and symptoms include:...
Leukemia is a type of cancer of the blood cells in which the growth and development of the blood cells are abnormal. Strictly...
Liver cancer is cancer of the liver cells (hepatocellular carcinoma) or of the ducts in the liver (cholangiocarcinoma). Liver...
Obesity is the state of being well above one's normal weight. A person has traditionally been considered to be obese if they are...
There are many types of ovarian cancer, epithelial carcinoma is the most common. Women with a family history of ovarian cancer...
Ovarian Cysts (Causes, Signs, Symptoms, Treatment)
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled, sac-like structures within an ovary. Symptoms of an ovarian cysts may be: Pain in the belly...
Pancreatitis (Acute, Chronic) Symptoms, Causes, Diet, and Treatment
Pancreatitis is a rare disease in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. There are two types of pancreatitis: acute and chronic....
Peritonitis is a bacterial infection inside of the abdomen. Some doctors choose to group the causes of peritonitis into five...
Pregnancy (Week By Week, Trimesters)
Signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary by stage (trimester). The earliest pregnancy symptom is typically a missed period, but...
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a combination of physical and emotional disturbances that occur after a woman ovulates and ends...
Uterine Fibroids (Benign Tumors of the Uterus)
Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors in the womb (uterus). Most uterine fibroids do not cause symptoms; however, if...
Other Causes of Distended Stomach (Abdominal Distention)
Examples of Medications for Distended Stomach (Abdominal Distention)
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter