A bloated stomach typically hurts and feels tight and full. Even though your abdomen is not enlarged, you could feel bloated. Bloating is typically a digestive problem, although hormones and stress can also be involved. There may occasionally be a hidden medical issue.
A swollen stomach is what?
First and foremost, a bloated stomach is a sensation of tightness, pressure, or fullness in your abdomen. It might or might not be accompanied by an obviously enlarged or bloated abdomen. The sensation might be anything from barely irritating to excruciatingly agonizing. After some time, it normally fades away, but for some people, it keeps happening. Cycles of bloating can be brought on by hormonal changes and digestive problems. You should see a doctor find out the source of your swollen stomach if it doesn’t go away.
How come my stomach feels bloated?
Excess intestinal gas is the most frequent cause of stomach discomfort and bloating. After eating, if your stomach feels bloated, it can be a digestive problem. You could have a food intolerance or another ailment that causes gas and digestive contents to build up, or it could be as easy as eating too much too quickly. Another typical factor in short-term bloating is your menstrual cycle. A bloated stomach may occasionally be a sign of a more serious medical problem.
How frequently does the stomach bloat?
Between 10% and 25% of otherwise healthy individuals report experiencing occasional stomach bloating. Up to 75% of people say their symptoms range from moderate to severe. 10% of people claim to have it on a regular basis. As many as 90% of persons who have been given an IBS diagnosis may experience this. Premenstrual and menstrual bloating affects up to 75% of women. Only 50% of those who suffer bloating also describe an expanded abdomen.
What causes stomach bloating?
Gas is a normal consequence of digestion, but excessive intestinal gas indicates that something is wrong with your digestion. While it is possible to consume gases through the inhalation of air or the consumption of fizzy beverages, most gases are expelled through belching before they reach your intestines. The fermentation process that occurs when gut bacteria break down carbohydrates is what mostly produces gases in your intestines.
Because too many carbohydrates weren’t normally digested earlier in the digestive process, before reaching those gut bacteria, there may be excessive fermentation going on. That can be for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you simply ate too much food too quickly for adequate digestion. Additionally, you can suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) disease or a specific dietary intolerance. Several potential reasons include:
Carbohydrate malabsorption. Many people struggle to digest certain carbs (sugars). Lactose, fructose, and carbohydrates found in wheat and legumes are a few of the usual offenders. Your body may struggle more with harder carbs because of the intolerance you have, or it could simply be that you are experiencing general issues. You can identify your dietary sensitivities with the assistance of a nutritionist or GI specialist.
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). When intestinal bacteria from the colon enter the small intestine, this happens. Other bacteria that are supposed to balance these germs may become overwhelmed by their excess. Some bacteria actually take up the gases created by other bacteria, but this balance can become unbalanced if there are too many of one type and not enough of another.
Functional digestive disorders. When your body experiences increased digestive difficulty for inexplicable causes, IBS and functional dyspepsia are identified. After eating, gas and bloating are frequent symptoms. Watch out for common alarm signs including nausea, vomiting, anemia, bleeding, diarrhea or constipation, fever, and unintended weight loss.
Visceral hypersensitivity. Even when their gas volume is normal, some people nonetheless feel bloated and gassy. This syndrome frequently co-occurs with IBS and other neurological illnesses of the gut-to-brain pathways. For the purpose of creating greater space in the abdominal cavity for gas, some persons even acquire muscle hypertrophy (abdominophrenic dyssynergia). Even if the actual volume of the gas is normal, their abdominal muscles loosen up and extend outward when there is gas present.
These may be made up of solids, liquids, or gases. When there is a blockage or restriction in your digestive tract or when the muscles that move digestive contents forward are somehow compromised, digestive contents may pile up in your digestive system. The digestive tract will have less space if there has been an accumulation of digesting substances there. Additionally, it takes up less space in your abdomen for additional components like fat and circulatory fluids, giving the entire area a tighter sensation.
The following list of factors can contribute to build-up:
Constipation. You may experience brief constipation as a result of your diet or way of life, or you may experience persistent constipation as a result of a medical problem. Food that has just been digested stays longer in the intestines while it waits to pass because of backed-up faces in the colon. Bloat results from everything expanding to accommodate the additional volume.
Bowel obstructions. When your bowels aren’t being blocked by backed-up waste, it can be a more serious condition. Tumors, scar tissue, strictures, stenosis, or hernias can all clog your large and small bowels. The small bowel can sustain damage from inflammatory conditions such as diverticulosis and Crohn’s disease, which lead to strictures that restrict the passage of digestive fluids.
Motility disorders can cause constipation, or they can simply cause everything to move more slowly through your digestive tract. The muscles and nerves that detect digestive contents in the digestive tract typically suffer from these conditions. Examples include gastroparesis, which causes partial paralysis of the stomach muscles, intestinal pseudo-obstruction, which mimics the signs of an obstruction when there is none, and pelvic floor dysfunction.
Recent weight gain. The weight you’ve put on recently usually goes to your tummy first. Your abdominal volume is undoubtedly affected if you’ve gained ten pounds or more. Because there is less space for regular digestion, even a healthy meal could make you feel unusually bloated as it is being broken down. Sometimes weight gain also involves water retention, which can make you feel bloated with fluids in your stomach and elsewhere.
Perhaps you’ve observed that your stomach bloating follows a distinct rhythm—one that is more closely related to your menstrual cycle than your digestive cycle. If so, you are not by yourself. Up to 3 out of 4 women report having abdominal bloating both before and after their periods. Bloating is another typical symptom of menopause hormone changes. When it comes to stomach bloating, female hormones should be specifically mentioned because they can affect bloating from many angles, including fluids, gas, and digestive back-up, as well as your susceptibility to those things.
First, estrogen makes you retain water. You’ll have fluid-related bloating when progesterone levels fall and estrogen levels rise. You may feel bloated due to this as well as the expansion of your uterus right before menstruation. But your digestive system and hormones also have a relationship. Progesterone and estrogen can both increase or decrease your motility, which can result in intestinal gas. Your GI tract’s estrogen receptors also have an impact on your visceral sensitivity, which is what causes you to feel bloated.
The usual causes of intermittent bloating are intestinal, hormonal, or both. Additionally, these factors may make you feel generally ill and exhausted. Your symptoms are likely not worrisome as long as they ultimately go away. However, you should contact a doctor to rule out other medical causes if your bloated stomach doesn’t go away or worsens, or if you have other symptoms of a serious disease, including fever or vomiting.
These may consist of:
Ascites. This is fluid that has gradually accumulated in your abdominal cavity. It is typically brought on by liver disease, however renal or heart failure can also play a role.
Pancreatic insufficiency. In this type of pancreatic dysfunction, the pancreas is no longer able to produce enough digestive enzymes to fulfill its role in the digestive process.
Inflammation of the stomach (gastritis) or the intestines (enteritis). A bacterial infection (often H. pylori infection) or excessive alcohol use are the usual causes of this. Peptic ulcers may also be connected to them.
Cancer (ovarian, uterine, colon, pancreatic, stomach, or mesenteric). It’s crucial to get yearly checkups with your primary care physician to screen for cancer.
CARE AND TREATMENT
What is the duration of a bloated stomach?
If your bloating is brought on by anything you ate, drank, or because of changes in your hormone levels, it should start to go away within a few hours to days. It won’t go down if you are constipated until you start pooping. All of these things can be encouraged along with the help of water, exercise, and herbal teas. Seek medical help if it doesn’t go away or gets worse.
What prevents constipation?
Long-term alleviation will rely on what causes your distress in the first place. To figure it out, a specialist diagnosis could be required. However, there are a few things you can do if you’re looking for home remedies to relieve your bloated stomach right now or prevent it from happening again tomorrow.
Teas made from herbs, such as peppermint, chamomile, ginger, turmeric, and fennel, can help with digestion and the elimination of gas. Dandelion tea can assist in reducing fluid retention.
Peppermint oil capsules work as a natural spasmodic. They thus aid in the relaxation of your gut muscles. This can assist you in releasing gas and stool that has been trapped, especially if your difficulties are related to your motility.
Antacids can reduce digestive tract irritation and facilitate simpler gastric emptying. Simethicone, an active component of several antacids, helps pass gas by clumping together tiny gas bubbles. Simethicone can be purchased separately as well.
Magnesium supplements assist in relaxing the gut muscles and neutralizing stomach acid. Magnesium has a natural laxative effect that can be occasionally useful but can become habit-forming if used excessively.
Probiotics can help supplement or rebalance your gut bacteria. Some will improve the way you digest your food while others might actually aid in the absorption of more gas. To really see an improvement, you might need to take them consistently for a few days or weeks.
Psyllium husks are a well-liked fiber supplement that might encourage more frequent bowel movements. Always add fiber supplements gradually and drink a lot of water when doing so. As needed, over-the-counter laxatives can also be taken.
Regular exercise with a focus on core body strengthening can help combat abdominal bloating.
How can I stop my stomach from bloating?
You can lessen stomach bloating if it’s brought on by your food or alcohol consumption by altering your way of life. Good broad principles include the following:
Consume enough fiber. Starting slowly will prevent your body from becoming overburdened if you don’t generally consume a lot of fiber in your diet. When fiber starts moving through your digestive tract, it will initially generate more gas but eventually, help clear out the fermenting faucal matter that has become lodged there. Fiber makes you feel full faster, which helps you avoid overeating by signaling your body to drink more water. The healthy bacteria in your stomach are fed and encouraged by fiber, a prebiotic.
Obtain enough liquids. This will promote motility throughout your entire digestive system and prevent your food from being too compacted and hard to travel through as it is being broken down. You can feel fuller between meals by drinking water.
Take a workout. Exercise keeps your bowels working and helps reduce water retention. Additionally, it can aid in avoiding the quick weight gain that frequently targets your belly. Regular exercise can seem more difficult if you work at a desk, but it doesn’t require much; just remember to get up and move around sometimes.
Don’t eat anything processed. Low in fiber and rich in salt and fat, processed foods are unhealthy. Fat slows digestion because it takes longer to digest, while salt causes water retention. Constipation and bloating can be caused by any one of these things. In addition to being lacking in nutrition, processed meals make you feel hungry even after you’ve eaten a lot of calories. This makes people eat more, which makes the problem worse.
Become mindful when you eat. Take your time, chew each bite completely, and quit before you feel satisfied. Because it takes some time for the food you eat to actually reach your stomach, feeling full happens later. The majority of people eat until they are physically satisfied.
Track your sensitivities. Simply paying attention can help you identify the ingredients you are most sensitive to, whether it be alcohol or specific meals. To keep track of how various meals make them feel, some people keep a food journal and make notes. You could also try eliminating certain meals one at a time to see if your symptoms change.
You might need some assistance with diagnosis, treatment, and prevention if the reason for your bloated stomach is anything more specific, such as specific food intolerance, menopause, or a medical issue. Several possibilities are:
Diet of elimination. In order to discover your food sensitivities and give your digestive system a chance to recover, a dietician can assist you in going through an elimination diet. This usually entails keeping a highly restricted diet for a brief period of time and gradually reintroducing particular food groups to see how your body responds. The low-FODMAP diet is a wonderful choice to try if you have to bloat. All of the carbohydrates that frequently result in gastrointestinal issues, bloating, and gas are considered to be FODMAP meals.
Breathe test for hydrogen. Several other digestive problems, including specific sugar intolerances and SIBO, can be effectively screened for with this rather straightforward test. Results usually appear within a day or two of taking it as an outpatient or occasionally at home.
Specific probiotics. If your doctor determines that you have SIBO or another type of gut bacterial imbalance, they can help rebuild your microbiome by reintroducing the particular bacteria you lack in order to balance out the ones that are overpowering.
Hormone treatment. Taking hormonal birth control tablets can help some women with their monthly bloating and other PMS symptoms. With your healthcare professional, you can go over the benefits and drawbacks of the medication. Supplemental estrogen and progesterone can help some premenopausal women with their symptoms. If you want to know if hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the appropriate choice for you, talk to your healthcare professional.
Biofeedback. This type of mind-body therapy can aid in relaxation and the retraining of your body’s systems. If you frequently get indigestion or constipation as a result of stress, or if you have visceral hypersensitivity and feel bloated even though your digestion is normal, biofeedback may be able to assist you to avoid getting a bloated stomach.
WHEN TO SPEAK WITH A DOCTOR
When should I worry if my stomach is bloated?
- If you have a bloated stomach, consult your doctor.
- Gets worse and worse.
- Continues for longer than a week.
- It hurts continuously.
- Comes with illness-related symptoms including bleeding, vomiting, or fever.
The final word
Unpleasant sensations include a bloated stomach. Even though it’s a normal occurrence and typically only transitory, you could grow tired of the cycle. It can be really beneficial to give the issue some focused attention so that the root cause can be found. Try keeping a journal where you may note your symptoms and any triggers. Note the effects of stress, hormones, and food. Bring your notes to a professional for advice when in doubt. Medical tests can be useful in identifying the many causes of bloating, which can be complex and challenging to differentiate. As always, if your symptoms are severe or persistent, visit a doctor.