Abdominal Bloating: Symptoms, Home Remedies, Treatment

Abdominal Bloating: Symptoms, Home Remedies, Treatment

D
Dr. Deepak Sharma
November 17, 20209 mins read

Key Takeaways

  • Abdominal bloating is a problem that can occur to almost anyone and, gas is a major reason for bloating.
  • It occurs when the gastrointestinal tract fills with substances like fluids or gas, which then causes it to expand.
  • It is wise to seek medical care when the abdominal distention is coupled with other problems like diarrhoea or nausea.

Abdominal bloating is a problem that can occur to almost anyone and, while gas is a major reason for bloating, it can be a symptom of an underlying disease or condition. As such, it isn’t an illness of its own and can be seen as an early sign that indicates the need for a medical check-up. The feeling of abdominal bloating is quite uncomfortable and can also be accompanied by pain. In more severe cases, bloating of the stomach can act as quite a restrictive condition as it can affect involvement in recreational or social activities. Besides the discomfort and pain, there is also the factor of flatulence, which is why it is well worth it to get treated.

Another important factor to note is that bloating isn’t the same as retaining water. This is a common misconception as there are similar bodily reactions, but in the case of abdominal bloating, the cause isn’t just liquids. Studies have found that even as much as 30% of people experience it quite regularly, making it quite common. Thankfully, being informed about it can come in handy as gas is not the only cause of bloating and other medical conditions may be the root cause. Regardless, exercising caution is important to staying healthy, and to help you do so, here’s all you need to know about a bloated stomach.

What is Bloating?

It occurs when the gastrointestinal tract fills with substances like fluids or gas, which then causes it to expand or swell. This is a common feeling as is often described as being ‘stuffed’ or experiencing pressure in the abdomen. In most cases, bloating is caused by excess gas in the digestive tract. This happens when food is digested and when you swallow air. However, in some instances, excess air may enter this tract, which can also play a role in bloating. Those who chew gum, eat or drink too quickly, or smoke are more likely to swallow greater amounts of air, which can lead to gas build-up.

Abdominal Bloating Causes

As mentioned, excess gas in the intestines and digestive tract is what causes it. Although this isn’t the only cause and there many underlying medical conditions, like giardiasis or heartburn that could also be responsible, it is important to be aware of all potential causes. Here are a few health problems that may lead to stomach bloating.

Stomach infection

Infections such as the rotavirus or norovirus can cause gas among other symptoms like diarrhoea or abdominal pain. These can eventually lead to bloating.

Additional Read: Diarrhoea: Causes, Symptoms

Fluid retention

This is particularly relevant to consuming foods high in salt, which can lead to excess fluid retention in the body. This causes bloating and can even point to some serious health issues if bloating persists.

Constipation

Occurs due to food intolerances, lack of fibre, pregnancy, medication, and several other reasons.

Gynaecological disorders

Conditions like endometriosis cause bloating and cramping and result in referred pain in the pelvis, which can also feel like that of bloating.

Indigestion

Caused by overeating, excess alcohol intake, or even medication, this is another common condition that leads to bloating.

Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)

This is the build-up of harmful bacteria in the small intestine that causes bloating and even diarrhoea.

Irritable bowel syndrome

This condition causes gas build-up, which is known to cause bloating.

Inflammatory bowel disease

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are two conditions that cause frequent bloating.

Eating disorders

Bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa can cause bloating.

Other causes 

Digestive Contents:

These can be solids, liquids, or gases. When there is a backup or obstruction in your digestive tract, or when the muscles that transport digestive contents forward get hindered, digestive contents might pile up in your digestive system. Any accumulation of digestive materials along the digestive tract will make it more difficult for normal gas levels to pass through. It also leaves small room in your abdomen for other things like circulatory fluids and fat, making everything seem tighter. The following are examples of build-up causes:

Constipation:

You may experience periodic constipation due to diet or lifestyle issues, or you may experience chronic constipation as a result of an underlying problem. Due to backed-up waste in your colon, recently digested food remains in the intestines for a longer time and waits to descend. Everything grows to accommodate the added volume, resulting in bloat.

Bowel obstructions:

It could be more dangerous if it isn't backed-up poop clogging your bowels. Tumors, scar tissue, strictures, stenosis, and hernias can obstruct your large and small bowels. Inflammatory diseases such as Crohn's disease and diverticulosis can cause damage to the small bowel, causing strictures that restrict the passage of digestive contents.

Motility issues:

It can induce constipation or cause things in your digestive tract to move more slowly. These are mainly problems with the muscles and neurons in the digestive tract that detect digestive contents. Intestinal pseudo-obstruction, a disorder that resembles the effects of an obstruction when none exists, gastroparesis, partial paralysis of the stomach muscles, and pelvic floor dysfunction are a few examples.

Recently gained weight:

Weight accumulated in the last year or so usually goes to your stomach first. When there is a weight gain of 10 pounds or more, your stomach volume is most likely to affect you. Because there is less space for normal digestive processes, even a regular meal may make you feel unnaturally bloated during digestion. Weight increase can sometimes get accompanied by water retention, which can cause you to feel bloated with fluids in your stomach and elsewhere.

Common Abdominal Bloating Symptoms

While the first symptom is swelling of the abdomen, there may be a few other symptoms that accompany this. They are:

  • Abdominal gurgles or rumbling
  • Pain, severe in worse cases
  • Frequent belching
  • Flatulence
  • Urge to have a bowel movement
  • Increased pressure in the abdomen

Abdominal Bloating Treatment

Most cases of bloating do not necessitate medical attention. You can attempt the following to manage it on your own:

  • Movement: Walking and other easy exercises can assist in moving the digestive tract.
  • Abdominal self-massage: This can also help pass gases through the digestive tract
  • OTC (over-the-counter) drugs and supplements: Can aid in the relief or prevention of bloating

OTC Abdominal Bloating Medicines:

  • Simethicone-containing antacids: Adhere to stomach bubbles, allowing gas to be released more comfortably
  • Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate): This may help reduce bloating caused by an upset stomach
  • Beano (alpha-galactosidase): An enzyme that breaks down complex carbohydrates into more digestible sugars, preventing gas
  • Lactaid (lactase): Provides the enzyme required by persons with lactose sensitivity
  • Probiotics: "Good" bacteria that aid in digestive health; available as supplements and in foods such as yoghurt and kefir

Medically, treatment for bloating is based on the cause of abdominal distention. Based on that, doctors may either prescribe antispasmodics, antibiotics, or even antidepressants. Besides this, you may be advised to get stomach massages to relieve it. There is a study that backs the possibility that massages may relieve perceived symptoms of abdominal bloating. However, in most cases, lifestyle and dietary changes should suffice as bloating without a serious medical cause doesn’t last for very long and is easily treated at home.

Prevent Tips For Abdominal Bloating

If your stomach bloating is due to a poor diet or excessive alcohol consumption, you can prevent it by making certain lifestyle adjustments. Some broad principles are as follows:

Consume enough fiber

Start taking plenty of fiber in your diet. Fiber also signals your body to drink more water and makes you feel full faster. Fiber is prebiotic that helps in promoting healthy microorganisms in the gut.

Drink enough water

It will promote motility throughout your digestive tract, preventing digesting food from becoming too hard and compacted to pass through. Water also keeps you satiated between meals.

Get some physical exercise

Exercise helps to keep your bowels moving and prevents water retention. It can also help prevent the quick weight gain that commonly leads to abdominal fat.

Avoid eating processed foods

Processed foods are high in salt and fat and poor in fiber. Salt induces water retention, whereas fat slows digestion since it takes a long time to digest.

Eat with care

Take your time chewing and stop before you're full. Feeling full is a delayed reaction because the food you eat takes time to reach your stomach.

Notice sensitivities

Whether it's alcohol or specific foods, simply paying attention can help you identify which ingredients make you the most sensitive. You can also try removing foods one at a time to see if it makes a difference in your symptoms.

Home Remedies For Abdominal Bloating

Given that it isn’t always serious, there are ways you can treat and even prevent it. This relies on a few home remedies and practices to keep your digestive health in check. Here are a few options you have available.

  • Swallow less air, meaning, chew less gum, eat slower, drink through straws, and reduce carbonated beverages
  • Avoid foods that cause gas. This includes dairy if you are lactose intolerant, and common foods like lentils, beans, or other such vegetables
  • Consume more soluble fibre as it helps reduce constipation
  • Lose weight if you are overweight
  • Eat smaller portions as overeating in one go can make you feel bloated
  • Take probiotics as they improve gut bacteria, which can then help reduce gas production

What Relieves Bloating?

There are a few home remedies you can attempt to debloat your stomach or avoid bloating:

  • Herbal teas such as peppermint, chamomile, ginger, turmeric, and fennel can improve digestion and help process gas
  • Peppermint oil pills are a natural antispasmodic that can help relieve water retention. That is, they assist your gut muscles in relaxing. It can assist you in passing blocked stool and gas, especially if you have a motility problem
  • Antacids help to reduce digestive tract inflammation and make it easier to evacuate the gas. Antacids frequently contain the active component simethicone, which works to pass gas by grouping smaller gas bubbles together
  • Magnesium supplements help 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 help you digest your food more effectively, while others may help absorb extra gases. You may need to take them regularly for a few days or weeks to observe an improvement
  • Psyllium husks are a well-liked fiber supplement that can promote regular bowel movements. Always add fiber supplements gradually and drink lots of water when taking husk. You can also use over-the-counter laxatives when necessary
  • Regular exercise that focuses on strengthening the core can help reduce stomach bloating

Seeking Care

With a condition as common as bloating, it can be easy to overlook the symptoms until they become a problem. This is why being informed about the disease helps as it gives you clues about what to look for and when to seek care. As a rule of thumb, it is wise to seek medical care when the abdominal distention is coupled with other problems like diarrhea or nausea. This way, you don’t ignore any serious conditions and can get treatment in time. A good way to get the care you need without any hassles is to use the healthcare platform provided by Bajaj Finserv Health.

This digital provision is loaded with telemedicine innovations that make accessing healthcare simpler than ever. With it, you can find the best doctors in your area and book appointments online. What’s more, for remote healthcare, you can consult with specialists virtually over video and skip a physical visit altogether. To add to that, you can also track your vitals digitally, store your patient records, and share these with doctors easily. This way, healthcare is always available to you, without any restriction. It's time to take your health in your hands and access all the health benefits!

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Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.

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