Everyone has a bloated belly once in a while. Although it’s irritating, most of the time is nothing to worry about – causes are harmless and can be easily treated. Abdominal bloating usually happens when the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is filled up with gas, and that’s why when bloated, you have the feeling of being full. Bloated means swelled – implying you have a swollen or distended belly that is mostly followed by gas, burping, or abdominal gurgles.
However, having a bloated belly does not always mean you’re full of air, or gas. Your abdomen might feel full and tight, but there might be other factors contributing to it. Bloating can occur if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a syndrome affecting over 24% of women. Some even say they’re bloated just because their belly is sticking out and don’t like the look of it, says Dr. Linda Lee. To know more about what causes bloating, read the following.
Causes of bloating
One of the most frequent causes of bloating is gas, especially if you feel bloated right after eating. When eating or drinking, we tend to swallow air, some more than others, especially if you drink or eat too fast, smoke, or even chew gum. So, gas accumulates in the digestive tract when you swallow air, or when the undigested food gets broken down. Gas can also be caused by certain food or indigestion, but usually gas leaves the body through flatulence or burping.
Stress, not drinking enough water, certain foods, and even changes in your diet, cause constipation. Constipation then contributes to bloating and abdominal pain. While it can go away on its own, certain medicaments also help. If you notice it’s taking longer than it should, it is recommended to see a doctor.
Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), usually leaves women with mood swings, cramps, headaches, and bloating, a week or so before the period. According to WebMD, it even makes you retain water, thus leaving you bloated. But right after you get your periods or a few days into it, the bloating will most likely go away.
It might taste good, especially with the tiny little bubbles that give soda and sparkly water ‘the bubbly sensation,’ but note that those exact bubbles are swelling your stomach, and making you feel bloated. And if you’re thanking God for diet soda, sorry to disappoint, but that will only make things worse, and your belly even bloater since artificial sweeteners can’t be digested, according to Health.
Abdominal bloating is a symptom of lactose intolerance – the inability to digest lactose (the main sugar in milk), that can later cause gastrointestinal symptoms, according to MedicineNet.
Signs that bloating could be something serious
If you experience the same type of bloating over and over, and there is nothing more to it, no need for concern, then. But if you’re experiencing pain, and the bloating is getting worse, you should know what is causing and how to prevent it. Moreover, if the bloating is accompanied by one of these symptoms below, you should consult with your doctor.
This might be a symptom of a serious condition, especially if you’re losing weight and you haven’t changed your diet or started a new exercise regimen. This is a bit concerning, if it’s more than 10% of your body weight that you’ve lost, according to EverydayHealth. The reason behind the weight loss might be a tumor that presses on the intestines, causing abdominal bloating even after just a small amount of food.
Vaginal bleeding between periods or postmenopausal vaginal bleeding – both can be associated with serious bloating, and if you do experience bleeding, you must get checked because it can be a sign of cancer, especially uterine and colon cancer.
Bloating that doesn’t go away after two weeks, it is a cause for concern. If even after making diet changes and going to the bathroom it’s still the same, it’s best if you seek medical advice, according to Alex Hewlett.
Liver disease can also lead to bloating. If that is the case, you might feel tired, bruise easily, or develop jaundice. If the bloating is associated with one of these symptoms, medical care is recommended. Bloating can also be related to congestive heart disease, but if you have this problem, you might experience swelling in the legs as well.
According to EliteDaily, this is an indicator of ulcers. They are open sores that develop along the lining of the esophagus, stomach, or small intestine. They can break out when your stomach is completely empty, and you experience pain that lasts from minutes to hours. Ulcers are associated with symptoms like bloating, gas, and weight loss.
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.