There are many possible causes of abdominal bloating, including fluid retention, irritable bowel syndrome, and infection. However, for most people, the cause of bloating will be fairly harmless, and it can be treated at home. Abdominal bloating can be alarming, particularly when it is very painful. Some people notice that their belly looks swollen or misshapen, or they may experience sharp abdominal pain.
Yet in many cases, the cause may be something as simple as indigestion or too much gas building up in the stomach and bowels. In this article, we look at the causes of abdominal bloating, how to treat it, and when to see a doctor. Abdominal bloating is not unusual. Many people experience the same type of bloating again and again.
Bloating that follows a predictable pattern is usually nothing to worry about. When the pattern changes or the bloating becomes worse than normal, it may be because of one of the following conditions:. A buildup of gas in the stomach and intestines is among the most common causes of bloating. Other possible symptoms include:. Bloating caused by gas ranges from mild discomfort to intense pain. Some people describe feeling as if there is something trapped inside their stomach.
Indigestion, sometimes called dyspepsia, is discomfort or pain in the stomach. Most people experience brief episodes of indigestion from time to time. Frequent indigestion that does not appear to be associated with food or other apparent causes could be a sign of something more serious. Possible causes include a stomach ulcer, cancer , or liver failure. These are often due to bacteria such as Escherichia coli or Helicobacter pylori , or a viral infection such as norovirus or rotavirus.
Stomach infections usually go away on their own after a few days. However, some people may become severely dehydrated or continue to get worse over several days. These individuals should see a doctor if the bloating coincides with:. The stomach and intestines are home to a variety of bacteria, many of which help the body digest food.
Disturbing the balance of these bacteria can lead to an increase in harmful bacteria present in the small intestine. This is known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO. SIBO can cause bloating, frequent diarrhea, and may lead to difficulties digesting food and absorbing nutrients. For some people, SIBO can lead to osteoporosis or unintentional weight loss. Some women find that they are bloated immediately before getting their periods or early in pregnancy.
Chronic bloating due to fluid retention could have a more serious cause, such as diabetes or kidney failure. If the bloating does not go away, a person should speak to a doctor.
Some people become bloated after eating certain foods. For example, people who are lactose intolerant , or who have a gluten allergy or celiac disease. The bloating usually goes away on its own but may be linked to diarrhea or stomach pain. Gastroparesis is a disorder that affects normal stomach emptying. The stomach muscles stop working properly, which causes food to pass much more slowly through the stomach and intestines.
Another condition, such as diabetes or hypothyroidism , usually causes gastroparesis. Some gynecological problems cause stomach pain. In some women, endometriosis can cause cramping and bloating.
This happens when the lining of the womb attaches to the stomach or intestines. Less commonly, abdominal bloating may be due to other serious conditions. People with gallstones or gallbladder disease may experience intense abdominal pain that mimics bloating. Cancers of the stomach or intestines may also lead to abdominal discomfort and bloating. Ascites is another condition that leads to abdominal pain and bloating. Ascites is a buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity over a period of time.
The most common cause of this is liver disease. Keeping a food diary to monitor bloating can also be useful. This can help with diagnosing food intolerances and making healthy lifestyle changes. Many people find that simply avoiding certain foods can prevent bloating and other gastrointestinal health issues. Rarely, bloating could be a sign of something more serious. A person should see a doctor for bloating associated with:. Abdominal bloating can be disconcerting and painful. For most people, the cause can be treated at home and will be something simple.
A person should speak to a doctor if the symptoms get worse or do not go away after a few days. Spicy foods,. People with a food intolerance experience digestive problems after eating certain foods even though their immune system has not responded. Gastroparesis, sometimes called stomach paralysis, is a condition in which the mechanisms of the stomach do not work properly, making digestion….
A look at foods to avoid for IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome. Included is detail on alternatives for trigger foods and how to avoid foods when…. Anyone can develop constipation. It can be caused by food, lifestyle choices, medication, or disease. Chronic constipation can be unpleasant and…. What causes abdominal bloating? Medically reviewed by Saurabh Seth Sethi, M. Causes Treatments and home remedies When to see a doctor Outlook There are many possible causes of abdominal bloating, including fluid retention, irritable bowel syndrome, and infection.
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