Bloating is an often and common symptom most individuals have experienced at some point in life. There are several reasons why you may experience bloating. Most causes are simple, mild, and easily treatable with home remedies or OTC (Over the Counter). Rarely, something severe, leading to a rapid worsening of uncomfortable symptoms, causes bloating.
Bloating means a distended or swollen belly. It occurs in your stomach, and it happens when your gastrointestinal (GI) tract is filled with gas. It may be accompanied by gas, feeling full and tight, and abdominal discomfort.
Symptoms of bloating
Common symptoms of bloating are gas, discomfort, and stomach pain. You may also experience belching frequently or have abdominal rumbling or gurgling.
Severe bloating may occur with some severe symptoms such as;
- Vaginal bleeding if you are postmenopausal
- Weight loss
- Blood in your stool
- Fever caused by infection
- Worsening heartburn
If you experience these symptoms along with bloating, consult with your doctor.
Common causes of bloating
Increased intestinal gas is one of the collective reasons you might experience bloating. The foods you eat as some foods produce more gas than others do. Also, how you eat food, are the main offenders of increased gassiness. Lactose intolerance is a problem with dairy, can also be a reason you might feel bloated.
Other mild reasons for bloating include:
- Weight gain
- Swallowing air-, this mostly happens when you smoke, chew gum, drinking through a straw, or eat too fast.
- Eating fatty foods
- Eating foods that build up gas in the intestinal tract such as beans, some foods with high fiber, and vegetables
- Menstruation & premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Drinking a lot of carbonated drinks and beverages
Other causes could include medical conditions, such as;
- Intestinal disorders-IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Diseases such as Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC)), IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)
- Gluten intolerance
- Abdominal adhesions due to prior surgery(s) in the abdominal or pelvic area, i.e., hysterectomy
- Liver disease
- H. pylori infection, which can cause stomach ulcers
- Hiatal hernia
- Blockage in your bladder or bowel
- Mental health factors such as depression or anxiety
- Cancer- colon, pancreatic, uterine, ovarian, or stomach
- Some prescriptions
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
Foods that cause bloating
Often, foods high in fiber lead to bloating and gas, especially with individuals who are not regularly eating these foods. However, eating these foods regularly can result in better tolerance, less bloating and gassiness, and good health.
Foods that cause bloating include;
- Some fruits like apples, apricots, pears, peaches, and prunes.
- Raw, cruciferous veggies such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kales, onions, Brussels sprouts, and lettuce.
- Whole grains
- Carbonated beverages or drinks
- Dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, ice cream, milk, butter.
- Artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol
- Salty foods- foods with high salt such as canned foods/soups, processed foods, and frozen entrees could cause bloating.
- Fatty foods
- Lentils and beans.
Can bloating be avoided?
Exercising and a healthy diet is a great way to relieve and even prevent stomach bloating and gas symptoms. However, there are many ways of preventing and relieving bloating:
- Avoid using straws for drinking.
- Avoid chewing gum
- Slow down when eating
- Take a fiber supplement or eat foods high in fiber to prevent constipation.
- Avoid foods commonly known to cause gas: – lentils, turnips, beans, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.
- Quit smoking
- Reduce or avoid drinking carbonated drinks-soda
- Avoid eating and drinking foods and drinks that have sorbitol or fructose. These non-natural sweeteners are mostly found in sugar-free foods.
Home remedies and bloating treatment
For temporary bloating, you can ask your physician about over the counter prescriptions that relieve gas and bloating. These medicines include charcoal caps or simethicone. Probiotics and specific home remedies can relieve your discomfort. These home and natural remedies include peppermint and chamomile tea, caraway, coriander, anise, fennel, ginger, pumpkin, and turmeric.
Please consult a health care professional before using any of the above natural or home remedies as they may have unwanted side effects interactions with medications you are currently taking. Moreover, if you are bloating is caused by something severe, your physician will treat the core cause.