Each year in the United States, seventeen million people complain of frequent gas; while twenty-seven million people struggle with excessive bloating. Discomfort from bloating and gas can often be prevented or treated, and our goal is to educate you so you can help yourself.
Bloating is the feeling you get when your abdominal region is larger.
Distention is the actual “physical” finding that your abdominal area is larger than normal.
You can feel bloated without actually being distended. For example, if you eat a large meal you may feel bloated, but you are not actually distended. To be distended, the abdomen must increase in size by one quart.
Excessive bloating or experiencing a constant bloated stomach, especially after eating can be attributed to a number of reasons but in many cases, the problem is due to the type of foods and the insufficient breakdown of the foods eaten which in turn can lead to a number of symptoms such as:
- A swollen gut / constant bloated stomach
- Wind pains
- Gurgling in the gut area
- Gut / stomach pains
- Indigestion and/or Bad Breath
- Flatulence – Excessive production of gas by bacteria usually is accompanied by flatulence. Increased flatulence may not always occur, however, since gas potentially can be eliminated in other ways – absorption into the body, utilization by other bacteria, or possibly, by elimination at night without the awareness of the gas-passer.
- The feeling of ‘over eating’ – Some people appear to be very sensitive (hypersensitive) to distention of their intestines, and they may feel bloated even with normal amounts of digesting food, gas, and fluid in the intestine after a meal. The bloating may be aggravated or even progress to distention if the meal contains substantial amounts of fat.
- And even nausea on occasions
Why does stomach bloating occur ?
Why can some people eat virtually anything without experiencing any adverse effects and yet a large percentage of the population suffer terribly from bloating after eating and many of the above listed symptoms on a daily basis?
Basically, many people’s digestive systems are not operating efficiently due to a host of reasons such as:
- Food intolerance (certain foods do not agree with you)
- Eating too much at one sitting
- Not chewing food properly
- Drinking too much liquid with means (it dilutes the digestive enzymes)
- Eating the wrong combination of foods for your body
- Excessive use of various medication over time such as antibiotics, hormones, antacids etc.
- lack of digestive enzymes – our stomach HCL levels decline as we age
- Long term overindulgence in ‘junk foods’, salt, sugar, food additives, food colorants etc.
How can I get rid of constant bloating or avoid feeling bloated after meals ?
You should follow a basic elimination diet which excludes most of the foods that are known to cause digestion problems for 5 to 10 days. You should start feeling some relief within days.
After 10 or so days, introduce 1 new food per day and gauge your gut reaction to the new food item.
If you experience any discomfort such as burping, bloating, gut pains or lethargy after eating the new food, leave it out for a while longer.
Call your health care provider if:
- The abdominal swelling is getting worse and does not go away
- The swelling occurs with other unexplained symptoms
- Your abdomen is tender to the touch
- You have a high fever
- You have severe diarrhea or bloody stools
- You are unable to eat or drink for more than 6 – 8 hours
Your health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your medical history, such as:
- Time pattern
- When did the abdominal swelling begin?
- Does it occur after meals or after eating certain foods?
- What other symptoms occur at the same time? For example, have you had:
- Absent menstrual period
- Excessive fatigue
- Excessive gas or belching
- Weight gain
Tests that may be done include:
- Abdominal CT scan
- Abdominal ultrasound
- Blood tests
- Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)
- Stool analysis
- X-rays of the abdomen