What is abdominal bloating
Before I list some of the common causes of abdominal bloating, I believe you should know what abdominal bloating is.
Abdominal bloating happens when the gastrointestinal (GI) tract becomes filled with gas or air.
Abdominal bloating can affect your work, activities of daily living, as well as social interaction.
Anyone can be affected. According to a study by North Carolina University, affected people do visit the hospital more often and take medications and sick days off than non-affected people.
The most common cause of bloating is gas in the digestive tract, particularly after eating. It accumulates during digestion of undigested food or when air is swallowed. Some amount of air is normally swallowed when we drink or eat but sometimes, you can swallow more than is normal.
Delayed emptying of the stomach, which is otherwise called “slow transportation of gas,” can also cause gas build-up in the body.
Chewing gum, smoking, eating or drinking too fast, wearing loose dentures, etc. predisposes one to abdominal bloating. There are two ways gas can leave the digestive tract: flatulence and belching.
Photo Credit: Probiotic DIGEST
Medical causes of bloating include: Intestinal parasite infection (giardiasis), hormonal fluctuations in women, mental health factors such as stress, anxiety or depression, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), weight gain, inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease and other functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs), eating disorders (e.g. anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa) and certain kinds of medications, overgrowth or deficiency of bacteria deficiency or their excess growth within the digestive tract
Other causes include; gas accumulation, impaired gas transit, food mal-absorption, constipation, altered gut motility, abnormal abdominal reflexes, hypersensitivity of the viscera (a bloated feeling in small or normal body changes).
Some serious conditions can also cause abdominal bloating. These include pancreatic insufficiency, ascites (abnormal accumulation of fluid in the abdomen) due to ovarian cancer, kidney failure, liver disease or congestive heart failure, celiac disease and lastly perforation of the digestive tract which can cause the escape of gas, normal digestive tract bacteria, and other contents into the cavity of the abdomen.
Treatment for abdominal bloating
To treat abdominal bloating, you just have to know what caused it. A doctor will help with this.
Treatment could be preventive or curative.
- Lifestyle changes: For one who is overweight, shedding off some pounds of flesh will help diminish or even prevent some of the symptoms associated with bloating.
- Avoid chewing gum. It will help to reduce the amount of air swallowed.
- Limiting a penchant for carbonated drinks can help prevent bloating.
- Abdominal bloating can also be checked by avoiding foods that cause gas e.g. vegetables from the cabbage family, lentils and dried beans.
- Eat slowly and avoid drinking with a straw. This can help reduce the risk of abdominal bloating.
- Using lactose-free dairy products can be helpful if you are intolerant to lactose.
Probiotics have also been found to help with replenishing the gut with healthy bacteria. Research on its effectiveness has yielded mixed results. However, a review found that it has a moderate effect (almost 70 percent). Probiotics are present in Greek yogurt and kefir.
Shop for Greek yogurt & Kefir online.
- Massages: Abdominal massages have been quite helpful in reducing this condition. A certain study on 80 persons with ascites revealed that a 15-minute massage on the carried out two times a day for up to three days caused great improvements in anxiety, depression, well-being and perceived symptoms of abdominal bloating.
- Medications: Medical cause needs medical treatment. Talking to a doctor will be needed if a change in lifestyle and dietary interventions do not bring relief. Antibiotics, antispasmodics, and antidepressants can be administered. The condition of the person is also taken into consideration.
You might be wondering when you should see a doctor. It is advisable to see one when you have been affected by bloating that is accompanied by unexplained weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, worsening heartburn, high fever, severe and prolonged abdominal pain, or blood-stained and dark stools.