Bloating: Symptoms, Causes and Remedies - A Comprehensive Guide
Bloating is the build-up of gas in your stomach, causing it to feel swollen or enlarged. It can cause discomfort, pain, and distension. If you are suffering from one or more of these symptoms, then this comprehensive guide will help you.
Bloating is having an uncomfortable feeling of compression, and fullness in your stomach area. It can be alarming accompanied by some visible signs such as a swollen abdomen or it can be not frightful at all. When having a swollen abdomen, the pain can go from moderately uncomfortable to extremely painful.
Bloating normally does away within a day or two. However, for some people, it may be a recurrent issue. Digestive problems and hormone fluctuations can cause stomach bloating. If your swollen stomach lasts too long, you should seek medical care to determine the cause.
Why you may have a Bloating stomach?
Excessive intestinal gas is one of the most common reasons for a bloating stomach. On the other hand, if you have a bloating stomach just after a meal, this can be a digestive problem.
It might be as easy as over-eating or eating too much of certain foods. For some people, this can be because of food intolerance that can cause gas and bloat. For a woman, her menstrual cycle can cause temporary bloating. There are times when a bloating stomach can be a sign of a more serious health issue. Read attentively to find out when you should contact your doctor for a medical visit.
How regular is stomach Bloating?
Stomach bloating is a common occurrence and it is not something to normally worry about. Bloating affect around 16-32% of the general world population. It can happen for many reasons. However, sometimes it can also be a sign of a more serious health condition like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
How long does a bloating stomach last?
Some people experience bloating on occasion and it goes away after a few hours. For others, it continues to be an ongoing problem that can last for weeks or months. It’s difficult to say how long bloating will last because many different factors contribute to the severity of the bloating.
What are the main symptoms of a Bloating Stomach?
Bloating is a common occurrence and I'm sure you've experienced it before. You might have stomach pain, discomfort, gas, burping or belching often, or feeling abdominal rumbling or gurgling.
Some serious symptoms of a severe bloating stomach which needs medical assistance are:
- Noticeable weight loss
- Blood in stool - bleeding in the digestive tract
- Unusual heartburn
- Vaginal Bleeding for women - This usually happens between your periods or if you are going through the postmenopause stage.
What causes a Bloating stomach?
Bloating can be caused by many different factors. It is not always easy to determine the specific cause of bloating, but there are some common ones.
The most common causes of bloating are:
The by-product of digestion is gas, but too much intestinal gas may be a sign something's not working properly. However, some people can produce more gas than others and this is because our metabolism works differently. Swallowing air and having carbonated drinks can cause gas but it mostly escapes from our mouth as a belch before it reaches the gut. Gasses in the intestine are mainly produced by bacteria breaking down carbs into sugars, a process called fermentation.
It can be hard to identify the reason behind excess fermentation because many factors can influence it. However, problems can often occur when there were too many carbs entering your gut before they could be naturally absorbed by your body. That could be because of a handful of reasons including :
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) - When bacteria from the colon enter the small intestine, they can cause an overgrowth of other types of bacteria. This imbalance can lead to an infection or inflammation in the digestive system. Some bacteria absorb the gases produced by others, but too many of one kind and not enough of another kind can disrupt it.
Carbohydrate malabsorption - Many people have trouble digesting certain types of carbohydrates such as lactose, fructose, and carbs in wheat and beans. You may have an intolerance to carbohydrates or think you can't digest them well so it's best to speak to a personal nutritionist. They can help point out any specific problems and provide personalized diet advice.
Functional digestive disorders - Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and functional dyspepsia both are diagnosed when the body is struggling in digesting food. The major symptoms are just simple as gas and bloating after a meal. However, some alarming signals can confirm a functional digestive disorder. This includes some classic symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fever, bleeding, diarrhea, and unintentional weight loss.
Visceral hypersensitivity -Sometimes people feel gassy and have a bloating stomach even when the volume of gas they produce is fairly normal. This type of condition can often tie in with irritable bowel syndrome and any other disorder that involves the gut-to-brain path. Some people might even go so far as to develop a muscular hyper-reaction. When they're introduced to new gas, their abdominal muscles relax and protrude outward. However, this response is typically only activated when the gas volume is higher than normal
Sometimes, digestive contents can build up and form a blockage which affects the flow of the digestive tract or prevents muscles that push food along from working. Excessive build-up contents within the digestive tract will give less room for normal gas amounts to pass through. likewise, it may also leave less space for other factors in your abdomens such as fluids and fats. Some causes of build-up are:
Constipation - Occasional constipation can arise due to your diet and lifestyle. On the other hand, some chronic constipation can arise due to an underlying health condition. The backed-up poop in your colon can cause foods that have been recently digested to stay longer in the intestines. As our body adapts to this situation, everything expands to hold the surplus volume which then leads to stomach bloating
Bowel Obstruction - When backed-up poop blocking your colon is not the issue, this could be a sign of a more complex and serious problem. For instance, your lower digestive tract can be blocked by scar tissue, tumors, stenosis, strictures, or hernias. Inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s disease and diverticulosis can damage your bowel which may lead to a tapered passage.
Motility Disorder - Motility disorder can provoke constipation or simply make everything in your digestive tract move at a slower pace. These are normally nerves and muscle disorders that feel the digestive content in the digestive tract and react by causing an effect of obstruction and partial paralysis of the abdomen.
Weight Gain - When anyone gains weight, the excess pounds are firstly noticeable in the belly area. Gaining an excess of 10 pounds or more will negatively impact the abdominal volume. And this means that there is less space for normal digestion to occur. Because of this, even having a simple meal can make you have a bloating stomach. There are times that weight gain can also be a sign of water retention with fluids which in turn provoke a bloating stomach. Water retention can be a sign of an underlying health condition.
Certain women may have noticed that their bloating stomach pursues a different pattern mostly related to their menstrual cycle. This situation affects 3 out of 4 women. They may have a bloating abdomen before and after their period cramps and menstrual cycle. Women in the perimenopause stage can also suffer from a bloating stomach.
Female hormones need special attention when it comes to bloating stomachs. This is because there can be a lot of sensitive factors that can affect them differently from many angles including gas, fluids, and digestive backup.
Bloating can be caused by estrogen and progesterone fluctuation. Estrogen causes an increase in water retention during the menstrual cycle. When progesterone drops closer to the time of menstruation, the uterus becomes larger which leads to bloating. Hormones also affect the digestive system in various ways. Estrogen and progesterone, for example, each cause intestinal gas through the effect of motility. They can also alter what makes you feel uncomfortable, like your visceral sensitivity, the time laps to empty your stomach after a meal.
4. Other Causes
Recurring bloating is usually related to your digestive system or hormones. Chronic bloating can cause fatigue but, as long as you get the bloating to go away, it's probably not something serious. However, If your bloating stomach doesn't go away or gets worse, or if you have other symptoms of a serious illness, such as fever or vomiting, you should seek immediate medical attention to eliminate any other medical issues. These may include:
Pancreatic insufficiency - This is a type of pancreatic dysfunction. This happens when the pancreas anymore cannot make enough digestive enzymes for the normal function of the digestion process.
Ascites - Ascites is the medical term to describe progressive build-up in the abdominal cavity. It is generally a sign of heart, kidney, and liver failure.
Cancer - Having a certain type of cancer can also provoke a bloating stomach. Such as stomach cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, pancreatic cancer, or mesenteric cancer. A yearly visit to your doctor is important for a complete screening to write off any underlying health condition.
How to get relief from stomach Bloating?
Stomach bloating can be caused by several factors such as eating too much, eating the wrong food, or drinking too much alcohol drinks. Here is a list of natural remedies that can help you get relief from stomach bloating:
Herbal Tea - Herbal tea can contribute a lot to the digestion and gas process. Such teas include peppermint, ginger, chamomile, fennel, and turmeric.
Antacids Pills - Antacids are often used to relieve gas and symptoms of inflammation in the digestive tract. The active ingredient, simethicone, can be found in many antacids that work to make larger bubbles more buoyant and easier to pass. Simethicone is also available as a standalone medicine to relieve bloating.
Peppermint oil capsules - As peppermint oil capsules are a natural antispasmodic, they may contribute to the relaxation of the intestinal muscles and reduce bloating. It can be extremely beneficial if you are going through a motility disorder.
Magnesium - Magnesium supplements can contribute to counteract the acids found in the stomach and help the intestinal muscles to relax and reduce bloating.
Probiotics - Probiotics can help to counterbalance gut bacteria. Some probiotics can help to process and digest food properly and others may help the metabolism to absurd more gases and thereby reduce bloating.
How to prevent stomach Bloating?
There are various ways to prevent stomach bloating such as avoiding overeating and choosing food items that are easier to digest such as fruits and vegetables. Some good general practices include:
Water - Drinking a sufficient amount of water, especially after a meal will help motility down the digestion tract. This means that it will prevent foods that are digesting to compact and become hard.
Eating enough fiber - At first, fiber may cause a lot of gas but once adopted, it will clean the digestive system and help to flush out anything that is stuck in the digestive tract.
Good eating habits - If you have noticed signs of a bloating stomach, try to adopt some good eating habits. This can be just simple as having a smaller meal, but more frequently instead of a large meal at once. Likewise, when eating, chewing with your mouth closed is a good eating habit to prevent you from swallowing air which can cause bloating afterward.
Stomach massage - After a meal, if you feel you have a bloating stomach, try to massage your stomach from right to left repeatedly with low pressure, especially if you feel full. This will help to release trapped wind and prevent bloating.
Avoid processed foods - Processed foods are often low in fiber and excessive in salt and fat. As salt is known to cause water retention and fat to decelerate the digestion process, combined these two can contribute to bloating and constipation
Exercise Regularly - The best way to stay hydrated, keep your bowel movements regular by exercising. It won't only help you avoid water retention but will prevent rapid weight gain in just one spot - your belly.
When to seek medical assistance because of a Bloating stomach?
- You've been having a bloating stomach for 3 weeks or more.
- You regularly suffer from bloating (approximately more than 10 times a month).
- You have changed your diet but still have a bloating stomach.
- You have a swollen belly.
- Along with bloating you have other complications such as constipation, diarrhea, or blood in the stool.
- You have difficulties performing daily tasks because of bloating.
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