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What exactly is a bloated stomach?
A bloated stomach is first and foremost characterized by a sensation of tightness, pressure, or fullness in your stomach. It could be accompanied by a visibly distended (swollen) abdomen. The sensation can range from mildly unpleasant to excruciatingly painful. It usually goes away after a while, but it can be a recurring issue for some people. Cycles of bloating can be caused by digestive issues and hormonal fluctuations. If your bloated stomach persists, you should seek medical attention to determine the cause.
What’s the cause of my bloated stomach?
Excess intestinal gas is the most common cause of stomach pain and bloating. If you have a bloated stomach after eating, it could be due to a digestive problem. It could be as simple as eating too much too quickly, or it could be due to food intolerance or another condition that causes gas and digestive contents to accumulate. Another common cause of temporary bloating is your menstrual cycle. A bloated stomach can sometimes be an indication of a more serious medical condition.
What is the prevalence of stomach bloating?
Between 10% and 25% of otherwise healthy people experience occasional abdominal bloating. Up to 75% of people describe their symptoms as moderate to severe. Around 10% say it happens on a regular basis. It could be as high as 90% among those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Bloating effects up to 75% of women before and during their period. Only 50% of people who have bloating also have a distended abdomen. Also, you must try to play this Belly Inflation Quiz.
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What causes stomach bloating?
Gas is a natural byproduct of digestion, but too much intestinal gas indicates that something is wrong with your digestion. While gasses can be ingested by swallowing air or drinking carbonated beverages, they mostly escape through belching before reaching your intestines. The majority of gasses in your intestines are produced by gut bacteria digesting carbohydrates, a process known as fermentation.
If there is excessive fermentation, it is because too many carbohydrates were not naturally absorbed earlier in the digestive process, prior to reaching those gut bacteria. This could be for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you simply ate too much too quickly for proper digestion. You could also have a food intolerance or gastrointestinal (GI) disease. Among the possible causes are:
Malabsorption of carbohydrates. Many people have trouble digesting certain carbohydrates (sugars). Lactose, fructose, and carbs found in wheat and beans are all common culprits. You may have an intolerance, or you may simply have general difficulties that cause your body to struggle with more difficult carbs. A nutritionist or GI specialist can assist you in identifying your food sensitivities.
Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine (SIBO). This happens when colonic bacteria overflow into the small intestine. These bacteria’s overgrowth can also overwhelm other bacteria that are supposed to balance them. Some bacteria absorb the gasses produced by others, but having too many of one type and not enough of another can upset the balance.
Digestive disorders that are functional. IBS and functional dyspepsia are diagnosed when your body has difficulty digesting for unknown reasons. After-meal gas and bloating are common symptoms. Watch for classic warning signs such as diarrhea or constipation, nausea, vomiting, fever, bleeding, anemia, and unintentional weight loss.
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Hypersensitivity of the viscera. Even if their gas volume is normal, some people feel gassy and bloated. This disorder frequently co-occurs with IBS and other disorders involving the gut-to-brain neural pathways. To make more room in the abdominal cavity for gas, some people develop muscular hypertrophy (abdominophrenic dyssynergia). Even when the actual volume of gas is normal, their abdominal muscles relax and protrude outward in the presence of gas.
These can be solids, liquids, or gases. When there is a backup or restriction in your digestive tract, or when the muscles that move digestive contents along are impaired, digestive contents can build up in your digestive system. Any accumulation of digestive contents along the digestive tract will make it more difficult for normal amounts of gas to pass through. It also makes less room in your abdomen for other things like circulatory fluids and fat, making everything feel tighter. Build-up can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
Constipation. You may experience occasional constipation as a result of diet or lifestyle factors, or you may experience chronic constipation as a result of an underlying condition. Due to backed-up poop in your colon, recently digested food remains in the intestines for a longer period of time, waiting to descend. Everything expands to accommodate the extra volume, resulting in bloat.
Obstructions in the bowel. It could be something more serious if it isn’t backed-up poop obstructing your bowels. Tumors, scar tissue, strictures, stenosis, and hernias can obstruct both your large and small bowels. Inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s disease and diverticulosis can cause damage to the small bowel, resulting in strictures that restrict the passage of digestive contents.