Bloating occurs when your gastrointestinal tract is filled with gas or air. Bloating is usually described as feeling tight, swollen, or full abdomen. Your abdomen may be challenging, distended, and painful. Most cases of bloating are accompanied by:
· Gurgles or rumbling in the abdomen
· Frequent belching or burping
Abdominal bloating can affect your ability to participate and work in recreational or social settings. Bloating may occur in both children and adults.
Gas is the commonest cause of bloating, mainly after eating. Gas accumulates in the gastrointestinal tract when you swallow air or when undigested food is broken down. We all consume air when we drink or eat. It is unavoidable. However, some people tend to consume more air than others. This happens if they are:
· Chewing gum
· Drinking or eating too fast
· Wearing loose dentures, and
Swallowed air leaves the body in two ways: flatulence and burping. Bloating may also be caused by slow gas transport (delay in stomach emptying).
Bloating may also be caused by underlying medical conditions. These include:
· Inflammatory bowel disease, like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
· Irritable bowel syndrome
· Food intolerance
· Hormonal flux (peculiar to women)
· Weight gain
· Mental health factors like depression, anxiety, and stress
· Eating disorders like bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa
· Giardiasis (intestinal parasite infection)
· Certain medications
Underlying medical conditions may cause factors that contribute to abdominal bloating, including:
· Altered gut motility
· Gas accumulation
· Overgrowth of bacteria or deficiency of bacteria within the gastrointestinal tract
· Abnormal abdominal reflexes
· Impaired gas transit
· Visceral hypersensitivity
Some severe health conditions that may cause abdominal bloating include:
· Pathologic accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity due to cancer (for instance, ovarian cancer), congestive heart failure, kidney failure, or liver disease.
· Non-celiac gluten sensitivity or celiac disease
· Pancreatic insufficiency — this is impaired digestion due to insufficient production of digestive enzymes by the pancreas
· Gastrointestinal tract perforation with the subsequent escape of gas, bacteria, and other contents into the abdomen.
Bloating is generally believed to be caused by an excess of gas in the gut.
Gases like methane, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and oxygen get into your gut when you swallow air or when foods ferment in your large intestine.
· Swallowing excess air
· Food intolerance, as in fructose or lactose intolerance
· Increased fluid in the bowels
· Gut microbiome imbalance
· Eating foods containing compounds ferment in your colons, such as sugar alcohols, FODMAPs, and fiber.
Physical activity can stimulate the regular movement of your bowels, which can help release stool and excess gas. Enabling bowel movement is significant if the affected person is feeling constipated. An activity as simple as walking around the block can relieve gas pressure.
Some yoga poses can position your abdominal muscles in a way that encourages the release of excess gas from the gastrointestinal tract. This will reduce bloating.
Yoga poses like Happy Baby Pose, Child’s Pose, and squats help with the quick release of gas.
Massaging your abdomen can improve bowel movement. It is best to try a massage that follows the path of the large intestine.
Peppermint oil capsules help with indigestion. Manufacturers of peppermint capsules boast effectiveness when treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, it can also relieve bloating in people without IBS.
Peppermint relaxes the muscles of your intestine, thus allowing easy movement of gas and stool. Therefore, you must follow the instructions on the pack. In addition, peppermint should be avoided by people prone to heartburn.
Although uncommon, swelling and bloating of the abdomen may be a symptom of a severe medical condition. IBS, liver disease, kidney problems, heart failure, and several types of cancer may cause bloating.
The bloat that lasts for days or even weeks may indicate an underlying health issue. Consult your healthcare provider if you have bloat that doesn’t go away.
Seek medical advice if your bloating occurs alongside these symptoms:
· Weight loss
· Poor appetite
· Severe abdominal pain
· Dark maroon or black stools
· Blood in your stool
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