What Is bloating?
Bloating is that uncomfortable feeling when your belly seems too full. Sometimes it happens after eating a big meal. Other times, you simply can’t explain it. Bloating may be an uncomfortable feeling that you can’t shake.
Learn what causes bloating, how to relieve it, and how to keep it from coming back.
Bloating is what happens when your belly feels too full of food or air. It’s uncomfortable and can last for hours.
Symptoms of bloating
When you experience bloating, you feel like the area around your stomach is stretched and overfilled. This can make your belly look distended, and your clothes might feel too tight. You might also notice that you belch or pass more gas while you’re bloated. At times the pressure from bloating can be quite painful.
Causes of bloating
There are several reasons for bloating. Most of the time, bloating is easily explained. It is not usually an indication of something more serious.
The most common causes include:
- Constipation: Infrequent or small bowel movements leave stool in your colon. The bacteria in your gut continue to break it down, which produces gas.
- Overeating: Putting too much food in your stomach will make it stretch, and you feel overstuffed.
- Eating foods that cause gas: Foods including beans, some vegetables such as cabbage or asparagus, and artificial sweeteners are hard to digest and cause gas.
- Swallowing air: Eating and drinking too fast, drinking carbonated beverages, or talking while eating can push air into your stomach. This can cause a gassy feeling.
In some cases, bloating is a symptom of a more severe condition that you should discuss with your doctor..
Some possible illnesses that cause bloating include:
- Bowel disease: Serious illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease can cause bloating.
- Gastroparesis: This is a condition where your stomach empties too slowly and leads to sluggish digestion and gas.
- Celiac disease or other food intolerance: Intolerance to certain foods can cause gas and bloating while your body struggles to break them down.
- Cancer: Colon, ovarian, stomach, and pancreatic cancer can all cause bloating.
Who can get bloating
Anyone can get bloating. People can experience bloating at any age. If you start to experience bloating more frequently than usual, you may want to ask your doctor about it. New or unusual symptoms are sometimes a sign of a serious health problem.
Diagnosing the reasons for bloating
If you have occasional bloating that you can connect to something you ate, there is probably no need to talk to a doctor. However, if bloating is frequent and painful, you should see your doctor to talk about the problem.
Your doctor might refer you to a specialist in digestive issues who will conduct an examination and tests to identify the reason for bloating. You might need special imaging procedures such as an ultrasound, endoscopy, colonoscopy, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These procedures allow the doctor to observe the inside of your digestive tract to diagnose any problems.
- CDC Warns of Potentially Fatal Bacterial Illness on U.S. Gulf Coast
- Helping Others as Volunteers Helps Kids 'Flourish': Study
- FDA Approves Pfizer's RSV Shot for Older Adults
- What to Do When Tough-to-Treat Lymphoma Strikes During Pregnancy
- Rate of Pregnant U.S. Women Who Have Diabetes Keeps Rising
- More Health News »
Treatments for bloating
In general, bloating goes away on its own. Once your body has finished digesting and passes any gas in your belly, you’ll start to feel better. There are some medications that can relieve your symptoms faster than your body’s natural processes.
Over-the-counter medications for stomach discomfort and bloating can be very effective. Both brand name and generic versions work the same way.
Some helpful medications include:
- Bismuth subsalicylate (found in Pepto-Bismol)
- Activated charcoal
- Simethicone (Found in GasX)
Over-the-counter food additives like Beano or Lactaid can make foods that may cause bloating easier to digest, which will help prevent stomach discomfort.
There are natural remedies that can relieve the discomfort of bloating. Adding these to food or drinking them as tea might be helpful.
Some alternative therapies that help reduce bloating are:
- Peppermint or chamomile tea
In the event that you have a serious underlying condition that causes bloating, you may need prescription medication or even surgery. Speak to your doctor about a major treatment like this.
How to prevent bloating
You can reduce the possibility that you will feel bloated by being careful about what you eat. Avoid foods that tend to make you bloated. Make sure you chew slowly and thoroughly to make digestion easier.
Sitting up straight or taking a walk after eating can also help with digestion. These can reduce bloating by preventing your body from producing excess gas.
If you’re not sure what’s causing your bloating, talk to your doctor. They might suggest an elimination diet, in which you remove bloat-causing foods. These might include dairy products, certain grains, and/or certain sweeteners.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Harvard Health Publishing: What's causing that belly bloat?"
Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Bloating: Causes and Prevention Tips."
Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Digestive Diagnostic Procedures."
Penn Medicine: "Why Do I Feel Bloated? Common Causes of Bloating — and What You Can Do About It."
Top What Relieves Bloating Fast Related Articles
Boost Digestive HealthUpset stomach? Some foods may be the culprits, and bad habits may be to blame. Treat your body right with these simple nutrition tips on how to deal with with diarrhea, gas, reflux, and more digestive ailments.
DiarrheaDiarrhea is a change in the frequency and looseness of bowel movements. Symptoms associated with diarrhea are cramping, abdominal pain, and the sensation of rectal urgency. Causes of diarrhea include viral, bacterial, or parasite infection, gastroenteritis, food poisoning, and drugs. Absorbents and anti-motility medications are used to treat diarrhea.
Digestive Disorders: How to Stop Gas PainWhen gas gets stuck in your digestive system, you may feel pain or bloating. If changes in your diet or other habits don't fix it, you might need your doctor's help.
Digestive Disorders: Surprising Reasons Why You're GassyEveryone has some gas. But you might have more than usual because of these things. See what the culprits are.
Diverticulitis (Diverticulosis)Most people with diverticulosis have few if any symptoms at all. When people do experience signs and symptoms of diverticulosis (diverticular disease) they may include abdominal pain, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating. Diverticulitis is a condition in which diverticula in the colon rupture. The rupture results in infection in the tissues that surround the colon. Treatment methods for diverticulitis include prescription medications, and in some cases, diverticulitis surgery.
GERD QuizWho is at risk for developing GERD? Are you? Take this quiz to learn what GERD is, if you're at risk, and what you can do about it.
How Can I Reduce My Bloated Stomach?Bloating can make your stomach feel stretched out or too full. Reduce your bloated stomach by taking chamomile, anise, caraway, coriander, turmeric and fennel.
How Can I Relieve My Baby's Gas?Many newborns, particularly between the ages of 1-4 months, suffer from gas. The taking in of air while feeding, allergies to food given, and/or improper burping practices may all cause the baby to be gassy and irritable.
Intestinal Gas and Gas PainIntestinal gas and painful bloating are common. Learn about what causes gas pain and how eliminating certain foods from your diet can help relieve symptoms.
What Is the Main Cause of Leaky Gut, and How Do You Fix It?A leaky gut affects your intestines. The main causes of leaky gut are HIV, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, alcohol use, and abuse of NSAIDs.
Is it Normal to Bloat Every Day?What is bloating in the stomach is it normal to have it daily? Learn the signs and causes of stomach bloating and what to do if your abdomen is distended.
What Helps With Bloating and Gas?What can you do to help with bloating and gas? Gas and bloating do eventually go away on their own. If your bloating only happens occasionally, make sure to chew your food well and sit up straight for a while after eating to help your body digest.
What Is Bentonite Clay Used For?Bentonite clay, also known as montmorillonite clay or calcium bentonite clay, is an ancient home remedy that is used for a variety of skin issues. It is used for treating various health issues such as acne, wounds, ulcers, skin allergies, bloating and diarrhea.
Why Am I So Gassy and Bloated?Bloating is a feeling that your abdomen is distended or larger than normal, but it does not necessarily mean that it is. Gas (flatulence) also can be a problem if you are bloated. Common, less serious causes of bloating are eating too fast, too much, or too many fatty foods; swallowing air; pregnancy; and menstruation. Cancer and IBD (ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease) are examples of the more serious causes of bloating. Examples of foods and drinks that cause bloating are high-fiber foods if you don't eat them regularly; eventually the bloating and gassiness will resolve if you eat them on a regular basis; fatty greasy foods, dairy products (for example, cheese, ice cream, milk, and yogurt); foods high in salt (for example, processed, frozen, and canned foods), and artificial sweeteners. Some doctors and other health care professionals recommend natural remedies like chamomile or peppermint tea or pumpkin to relieve bloating. Examples of OTC medicine (medicine available without a prescription) and other products that may relieve bloating and gassiness are, Gas-X, Beano, Pepto Bismol, Metamucil, probiotics, and Ex-Lax for constipation associated with bloating. If you have persistent or severe gas and bloating, and if you have any of these symptoms see a doctor or other health care professional, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain, bloody diarrhea, fever, or if you think you are or may be pregnant.
Why Would I Have Mucus in My Stool?Why do you have mucus in your stool? Learn what causes mucus in stool, when to see the doctor about it, and how to get treated.