Bloated stomach is a condition wherein the stomach feels tight and distended even without taking in any food. Some people develop it as a result of an underlying medical condition. Affected individuals may feel stomach tightness after a meal or several hours thereafter. Some do not experience additional symptoms aside from stomach bloating, while others have more unpleasant symptoms that accompany bloating.
A bloated stomach is typically relieved by belching or releasing gas and defecating. The condition can be managed by making dietary changes and observing proper eating habits. However, stomach bloating may require medical consultation if it appears with unpleasant and disturbing symptoms. Recurrent bouts of stomach bloating also need careful diagnosis to rule out any underlying cause and avoid complications.
Causes of a bloated stomach
Stomach bloating refers to the abdominal swelling that occurs as a result of excess gas and fluids that have accumulated in the abdomen, causing the waist’s diameter to increase. There are several reasons why this occurs and the most common are:
Constipation causes the stomach to swell due to accumulated feces. This often occurs as a result of low-fiber diet, lack of fluid and physical inactivity.
Swallowing too much air
The stomach will likely distend if an individual has swallowed too much air. This could be due to chewing a gum, smoking, loose dentures and snoring. Eating really fast will also result in bloated stomach as more air gets into the tummy.
Overeating is notorious for causing stomach bloating. This often occurs in people who eat three large meals a day.
Gassy foods introduce more air into the stomach which eventually results in a distended stomach. It should be noted that some of these foods are nutritious foods and should not be eliminated from one’s diet altogether. Among these foods are broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, beans, legumes and onions. Fatty foods, including aerated drinks, are high in gas content as well.
Those who have food intolerance often experience stomach bloating after eating. People with food intolerance cannot digest some foods properly due to inadequate digestive enzymes.
Stomach bloating could also be attributed to some underlying medical conditions like Celiac Disease, Ovarian Cancer, Dumping Syndrome, Pancreatic Insufficiency, tumors and Ascites. Medicines for diabetics have been found to cause bloating too.
Seeking medical advice for bloated stomach
Most cases of stomach bloating do not require medical consultation. However, there may be times when sufferers need medical advice if the condition persists for over 4 days and is accompanied by intense abdominal pain. Depending on the underlying cause, some report experiencing some relief after belching or flatulence.
The first line of treatment for bloated stomach is diet modification and proper eating habits. This often involves eating fiber-rich foods and avoiding oily and fatty foods, including canned and refined foods. It also involves chewing the food properly and eating small but frequent meals so as to avoid trapping more air in the stomach. Affected individuals will also benefit from living an active lifestyle and quitting smoking. Sufferers are encouraged to engage in regular exercise or yoga for optimum blood circulation. Prescription medications may be used to treat the underlying medical condition that causes stomach bloating.