Causes of Stomach Bloating
Although stomach bloating rarely poses a serious health risk, the exact cause can be hard to determine.

Various factors may result in a bloated or distended abdomen.

Common reasons for stomach bloating may include:

  • Increased gas in the intestine
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
  • Dysbacteriosis (imbalance of microorganisms that normally live in the bowel), which is sometimes caused by antibiotic use
  • Food sensitivity
  • Lumbar lordosis (increased curvature of the lumbar region of the spine), which reduces the abdomen's capacity to hold gas

Bloating is characterized by a sensation of fullness, tightness, pressure, or trapped gas in the abdomen. In other words, it occurs when your stomach expands due to gas buildup or fluid retention. This may typically occur following the consumption of certain foods.

Bloating is one of the most common complaints and many may have it for months or even years. Generally, the diagnosis can be found with a simple discussion and careful history of how your diet and symptoms related to eating. If abdominal bloating affects your quality of life, schedule a visit to a gastroenterologist for proper evaluation.

What are the causes of and treatment options for bloating that affects one side of the stomach?

The causes of and treatment options for abdominal bloating depend on which part of the abdomen is bloated. The following are the points to keep in mind if you experience bloating in these three abdominal regions:

  1. Upper abdomen: You may experience it soon after eating, usually right away or 30 minutes later. You may also feel nausea and upper abdominal discomfort
    • Causes
      • Stomach ulcers
      • Infection of the stomach by Helicobacter pylori bacteria
      • Abnormal function of the stomach such as slow peristalsis and gastroparesis (slow gastric emptying)
      • Impaired dispensability (stretching) of the stomach
      • Functional dyspepsia (recurring signs and symptoms of indigestion in the absence of an obvious cause)
    • Treatment options
      • Treatment of the underlying condition if any
      • Antibiotics and antacid treatment may be prescribed for 10-14 days
      • Diet modifications and medication to improve the gut function
    • Prevention
      • Smaller and more frequent meals
      • Limit spicy/fatty foods, coffee, carbonated beverages, and alcohol consumption
  2. Mid-abdomen: Bloating, flatus, gas, and/or abdominal pain in the mid-abdomen occurs 30 minutes to several hours after eating.
    • Causes
      • Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease
      • Malabsorption syndromes
      • Food intolerance
      • Celiac diseases
      • Gluten intolerance
      • Small bowel bacterial overgrowth (excessive bacterial buildup and abnormal bacterial fermentation of carbohydrates in the small intestine)
    • Treatment options
      • Dietary alterations
      • Symptomatic treatment for underlying conditions if diagnosed
    • Prevention
      • Maintain food dairy
      • Avoid coffee, carbonated beverages, and alcohol
      • Hydration
      • Supplements to treat side effects of dietary restrictions
  3. Lower abdomen: Generally, unrelated to eating. It may involve a struggle with constipation, the passing of gas, and bowel movement.
    • Causes
    • Treatment options
      • Medications to improve the consistency and frequency of stool
      • Dietary changes such as increasing your fiber and water intake
      • Physical therapy to help with pelvic floor functioning

QUESTION

Pancreatitis is inflammation of an organ in the abdomen called the pancreas. See Answer

How can you prevent bloating?

Although a bloated stomach rarely poses a serious health risk, the cause can often be difficult to determine. Our bodies can become out of balance for a variety of reasons, which can cause stomach bloating. There are various ways to reduce bloating as soon as possible, regardless of whether you're feeling the aftereffects of a heavy meal, have constipation from traveling, or have the sensation of being downright uncomfortable.

The following are the eight ways to prevent stomach bloating:

  1. Hydrate and eat potassium-rich foods
    • Drink more water and eat foods high in potassium, such as bananas, avocados, and sweet potatoes
    • Potassium and water both help remove extra fluid and sodium from the body. This is particularly crucial during menstruation.
  2. Include foods that can flush away excess water
    • Asparagus is a superfood vegetable, which acts as a natural diuretic, helping the body flush out excess water.
    • There are other vegetables (such as cucumbers, fennel, celery, and lemon) and fruits (such as berries and watermelon) that act as diuretics.
  3. Make walking a part of your healthy lifestyle
    • Going for a walk may help if gas is the cause of your bloated abdomen.
    • Moving stimulates the digestive system to contract, which may help pass trapped gas.
  4. Consider drinking herbal teas
    • Herbal teas may help improve gut function and prevent bloating. Dandelion tea, peppermint tea, or ginger tea can help in proper digestion.
  5. Try Epsom salt
    • Magnesium in the form of Epsom salts is a natural saline laxative. It can aid in the elimination of excess water weight.
    • It's a one-size-fits-all treatment, and because most of us don't get enough magnesium in the first place, it's extremely beneficial.
  6. Limit your salt intake
    • Another way to reduce bloating.
    • Avoid processed foods that are often high in sodium, which causes water retention.
    • To ensure that your meals retain flavor, replace salt with seasonings such as fennel, basil, cumin, and peppermint.
  7. Use foam roller in your daily exercises
    • Foam rolling may benefit the body in several ways, including improving circulation, calming, and regulating the nervous system, digestion, and reducing inflammation.
    • After just one session of foam rolling that incorporates inversions, twists, and self-massage, many people will experience some relief from bloating.
    • However, for prolonged relief, experts advise people to foam roll a few times per week, even if only for 10 minutes at a time.
  8. Check your fiber intake
    • You should start slowly if you're increasing your intake of fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables to keep your digestive system healthy.
    • Doctors advise that you should gradually increase your fiber intake while also drinking more fluids. Constipation, gas, and bloating can result from consuming too much fiber and not enough water.
    • Drinking more water will help your dietary fiber pass through your gastrointestinal tract and avoid uncomfortable bloating and constipation.

Although it's uncomfortable, stomach bloating caused by too much gas or water is not likely to be a serious health issue. Dietary and lifestyle changes along with some medical advice can help alleviate symptoms.

How is bloating treated?

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for bloating. Treatment options vary depending on the underlying possibility of what is causing the symptoms.

Seven common treatment options for bloating may include:

  1. Antispasmodics: This may relieve the discomfort by allowing the bowel muscles to relax.
  2. Probiotics: Dietary supplements that include live bacteria, which work to balance the intestine’s natural flora.
  3. Antibiotics: May be prescribed when a bacterial infection is a cause of bloating. Take antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor.
  4. Prokinetics: Drugs that speed up the process by which food passes through the digestive system.
  5. Antidepressants: Have an impact on brain and gut receptors. They have been demonstrated to help reduce bloating and distension when administered in dosages lower than those used to treat depression.
  6. Psychological therapies: Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be useful while dealing with chronic bloating symptoms.
  7. Diet low in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAP): Bloating and distension symptoms can be reduced by choosing a low-FODMAP diet in consultation with a physician or registered dietitian. FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that are rapidly fermented by gut bacteria and poorly absorbed in the small intestine.

Bloating is generally caused by harmless factors; however, at times it may be a sign of a more serious medical issue for some people. You probably don't need to talk to your doctor if bloating is so infrequent that you often forget about the last time it happened.

If bloating occurs frequently, is excruciatingly painful, and feels entirely new (accompanied by symptoms you have never noticed before), you should take it seriously and consult your doctor.

SLIDESHOW

Super Tips to Boost Digestive Health: Bloating, Constipation, and More See Slideshow

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Medically Reviewed on 11/3/2022
References
Image Source: iStock image

Bloated Stomach https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/21740-bloated-stomach

Why Am I Bloated? https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/ss/slideshow-bloating-reasons

Belching, Bloating, and Flatulence https://gi.org/topics/belching-bloating-and-flatulence/

5 Common Causes of Bloating and How to Relieve the Discomfort at Home https://www.templehealth.org/about/blog/5-bloating-causes-relieve-discomfort-at-home