Raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by bloating!
Whether it’s from gas, eating too much, water retention, or it’s just a premenstrual symptom, abdominal bloating happens quite a lot and there is nothing more annoying, frankly. As a result of these, your belly becomes too tight and full, often causing pain. Other than being annoying, most of the time it’s harmless and with some natural remedies you will most likely find at home, it can be easily treated.
In the worst case scenario, the condition might be a sign of other health issues, sometimes even serious. When this is the case, bloating is usually accompanied with other symptoms like weight loss, fatigue, continual bloating, or blood in the stool. Never ignore such symptoms and seek medical care. From IBS to cancer, follow us to know more about the causes of abdominal bloating, although they might not be the most common ones.
Serious causes of abdominal bloating
While the interval between early symptoms and diagnosis can be years, know that bloating is one of the early symptoms of this disorder. Crohn’s disease affects the GI tract, usually in the colon or small intestine, and results in the narrowing of intestines, thus leading to bowel obstruction. You might experience severe bloating, nausea, weight loss, and vomiting after meals. However, if you have diarrhea with blood, this is the case when Crohn’s appears in the colon.
This is a condition that affects the large intestine. Other IBS symptoms might be pain, gas, constipation, diarrhea, and cramps. IBS is not likely to lead to cancer, and will not permanently harm the large intestine, but since there is no cure for it, you can at least ease the symptoms by changing your diet, taking medicine, and eliminating stress from your life (yeah, good luck with the last one).
The autoimmune disorder is caused by inflammation of the lining of the small intestine. The damage on the lining prevents the ability to digest gluten – a general name for the proteins that can be found in wheat, barley, and rye. People with this condition might become malnourished even if they eat healthily. The cause of this condition is yet unknown and the symptoms are bloating, pain, diarrhea, lactose intolerance, constipation, weight loss, vomiting, and foul-smelling stools. The best way to ease the symptoms is a gluten-free diet.
This condition refers to an excess amount of peritoneal fluid that causes extreme bloating. Ascites is usually caused by non-cancerous conditions like liver failure, heart failure, infection, and cirrhosis which is the most common cause. But ascites can also be caused by colon, ovarian, pancreatic, and uterine cancer. To know whether the ascites is benign or malignant (cancerous), the doctor performs a procedure called paracentesis.
The disease might not be the most common, but it certainly is the most fatal. Other than persistent bloating, you might experience symptoms like pelvic pain and feeling full faster. You can diagnose the disease with a transvaginal ultrasound and a thorough pelvic exam. Note that ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other reproductive cancer, mostly in women over 50.
Common causes of abdominal bloating
Most of these causes are simple and easily treatable, and there is no need for concern. People who struggle with bloating will probably relate to these.
If you have a rock hard stomach and pain that gets worse through the day, only to feel relieved after using the toilet, you’re dealing with constipation. This condition is usually caused by poor diets, stress, and not drinking enough water. While it can go away on its own, certain medicaments also help.
Accumulated gas in the digestive tract is the most frequent cause of bloating. While eating or drinking we tend to swallow air more than we should sometimes, and that’s why we feel bloated and full after. Gas can also be caused by certain foods or indigestion, but the good news is it leaves the body on its own through flatulence or burping.
You know it’s an allergy when after eating or drinking something, your body’s reaction is unusual. Food allergies may affect the skin, respiratory or cardiovascular systems, and the gastrointestinal tract. The symptoms range from those minor to severe – from bloating, swelling, diarrhea, cramps, to difficulty in breathing, nausea, hives, and dizziness.
This condition also called dyspepsia and is a functional disease in which the GI organs, starting with the stomach, and the first part of the small intestine (and sometimes the esophagus), don’t function normally. This can happen to everyone and includes symptoms like bloating, nausea, and heartburn. Moreover, if you have problems with indigestion, you might feel very full after a normal-sized meal, or even not be able to finish a meal because you feel full.
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose – the main sugar in milk and yogurt. When the small intestine stops making enough enzyme lactase to break down the lactose, a person becomes lactose intolerant. The undigested lactose then moves to the large intestine, where it interacts with the bacteria that are found in the large intestine, thus causing symptoms like bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
Foods to avoid:
Carbs – For those dealing with constant bloating, try to eliminate carbs that are difficult to ingest, like the FODMAPs – fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. These carbs bring extra fluid in our digestive system, thus the bloating and other digestive problems. All fermentable foods are easily broken down by bacteria in the bowel, this way resulting in gas production.
Carbonated drinks – Soda might taste good because of all the tiny bubbles that give soda and sparkly water the ‘bubbly sensation’, but those exact bubbles are swelling your stomach and making you feel bloated. Diet soda is even worse since artificial sweeteners can’t be digested and your belly will be even bloater. Not so tasty anymore, huh!
Cruciferous vegetables – Vegetables are always recommended for a healthy diet, but not on the days when you’re feeling particularly bloated. It’s harder to digest these veggies because of their high fiber content and complex sugars, often causing gas. Kale, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts are among the most common veggies to cause discomfort when it comes to digestion.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article: text, graphics, images, and other materials contained are strictly for informational purposes only. The Content is in no way intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice, or treatment. Please, always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with all the questions that you have related to, or about, a medical condition.