Know the basics
What is bloated stomach?
Bloated stomach, also known as abdominal bloating or bloating, is a condition in which gas builds up in the stomach and intestines, causing your stomach to feel full and in some cases appear visibly swollen. Bloating or burping are usually caused by swallowed air or the breakdown of food through the digestion. You may experience discomforts in the stomach area occasionally or repeatedly in a single day.
How common is bloated stomach?
Bloated stomach is a common complaint among both adults and children. It commonly affects more females than males. Bloating is often associated with gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Bloated stomach is not a serious condition and can be easily managed. If your bloating does not go away, you may need to see your doctor for further investigation.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of bloated stomach?
The common symptoms of bloating can be hard to notice but most people describe an uncomfortable feeling of fullness, tightness or swelling in the abdomen. This can often be accompanied by pain, excessive gas (flatulence), frequent burping or belching, and abdominal rumbling or gurgles.
There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
Usually, bloating, belching and gas can resolve themselves. You should consult with your doctor immediately if symptoms don’t improve with changes in your diet and eating habits. You should contact the doctor if you notice:
- Chest pain;
- Unintended weight loss;
- Persistent abdominal pain;
- Changes in color or frequency of stools;
- High fever;
- Abdominal pain.
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. These symptoms could be a signal of a more serious and underlying digestive problems. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is suitable for your situation.
Know the causes
What causes bloated stomach?
A bloated stomach can be caused by other health conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Other than medical reasons, some common causes of bloating are:
- Eating fatty food or drinking carbonated beverages;
- Eating too quickly and in big portions;
- Chewing gum;
- Stress and anxiety;
- Talk while you eat.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for bloated stomach?
Common risk factors that increase your chances to become bloated are lifestyle factors. These may include the following:
- If you have a diet that includes too much high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetable, whole grains and beans.
- If you are lactose-intolerant or gluten-intolerant, meaning your body cannot digest lactose or gluten. Lactose is found in dairy products such as milk, cheese and ice cream. Gluten is a mixture of proteins that are found in wheat products such as pasta and breads.
- If you are inactive, which slows down your digestion.
- If you drink carbonated drinks.
- If you have chronic health conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is bloated stomach diagnosed?
The first step in diagnosing bloating is a physical exam that includes a review of your medical history. You should to tell your doctor details about your history of bloating as well as your details of your diet, whether you have any pain or other associated symptoms. Also tell your doctor if you currently taking any medications or herbal supplements. This will help your doctor better diagnose your bloating.
How is bloated stomach treated?
Treatment options for bloating involves changes in your diet and lifestyle. These changes may include:
- Identify the foods that are causing your bloating. It may be a good idea to create a food diary. This will help you identify the foods that are triggering your bloating.
- You should limit friend and high-fat foods. Fat can slow down your digestion, making your stomach feel full faster.
- You should temporarily limit high-fiber foods. Fiber is usually good for a healthy diet but your body may be sensitive to excess amount of fiber. Sometimes it may take three weeks for your body to adjust to fiber.
- Limit dairy products. You can try to taking smaller amounts of dairy products at one time. You can also take products that can help you digest lactose such as lactase, an enzyme that breaks down lactose.
When diet and lifestyle changes do not relieve your bloating, you may want to consider drug therapy. Some drugs that can give relief are:
- This is usually found at your local pharmacy and can be purchased without a prescription. It works by breaking up gas bubbles.
- Activated charcoal. Charcoal tablets may sometimes help with gas.
- Lactase supplements. Lactase is an enzyme that can help you digest foods that contain lactose.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage bloated stomach?
If you have bloating because of a medical condition, your doctor will treat that condition first. The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with bloating:
- Eat smaller meals more frequently;
- Eat slowly;
- Avoid fried and fatty foods;
- Avoid carbonated drinks and beer;
- Stay active and exercise;
- Try to quit smoking;
- Avoid chewing gum, drinking through a straw or sucking on hard candy (habits that make you swallow air).
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
The 3 Causes of Toxic Bloating. http://www.doctoroz.com/article/3-causes-toxic-bloating. Accessed June 10, 2016.
Gas and gas pains. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gas-and-gas-pains/in-depth/gas-and-gas-pains/art-20044739?pg=2. Accessed June 10, 2016.
How is bloating diagnosed? https://www.sharecare.com/health/bloating/how-bloating-diagnosed. Accessed June 10, 2016.
Bloating 101: Why You Feel Bloated. http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/diarrhea-10/bloated-bloating. Accessed June 10, 2016.
Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017