Becky Yoza, DNP
Becky has 14 years combined experience in medical/surgical and emergency nursing. She also teaches undergraduate and graduate nursing at Hawaii Pacific University. Originally a sociologist, Becky trained as a nurse to gain knowledge for her research, but she ended up loving nursing so much she never went back! Born and raised in Michigan, Becky has lived in Hawaii since 2010 and never wants to leave.
Abdominal bloating affects many. The gut produces gas while digesting food. In fact, the gas collects in the stomach and intestines. It leads to abdominal bloating. But some people are more sensitive. Thus, they suffer from abdominal pain. Also, they may suffer from heavy belching or farting, too. The article discusses the best ways to relieve bloating.
There are three causes for this condition. Firstly, foods in your diet may cause increased production of gas. Secondly, swallowing air by chewing food may also contribute. Thirdly, bowel diseases or lifestyle issues may cause abdominal bloating and pain. In summation, the best way to relieve bloating is by changing the diet. Additionally, taking antacids and digestive aids after every meal may also help relieve bloating, too.
Bowels contain gas. This happens from the digestion. Additionally, air can enter the abdomen while chewing food or drinking. This is called aerophagia. The air then makes its way into the esophagus. Of note, most of the air escapes when we burp after a meal. The air unable to pass through burping results in bloating. This causes a hard, swollen belly. Swallowed air with the gases released from digestion passes through the anus as flatulence.
Certain foods cause gas. Especially when eaten in large quantities. Foods include broccoli, baked beans, and Brussels sprouts. This gas is mainly composed of carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane. Traces amounts of sulfur give a foul odor to the farts. Additionally, gases are produced by bacteria in our gut. The bacteria helps digest food. Abdominal bloating can be very uncomfortable. This can also cause cramps and pains in the abdomen.
Symptoms of Bloating
Excessive and repeated burping is a sign of gas-related bloating of the abdomen. Excessive and repeated farting is also a sign as well. When the gas settles in the large intestine under the liver or spleen, it leads to cramps and pain as a result. So, a bloated belly causes discomfort. However, it usually subsides on its own in a few hours.
People suffering from ailments produce more than average amounts of gas during digestion. Ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome or gluten intolerance, for instance. Irritable bowel syndrome is a common condition. It is where bouts of abdominal pain are linked to changes in bowel habits. Changes like constipation or diarrhea.
Causes from Food
Foods may cause abdominal bloating.
- Broccoli & brussel sprouts
- Starchy foods such as potatoes, corn, and noodles
- Foods high in soluble fiber such as grains, peas, radish beans, etc
- Dairy. Lactose intolerance is when the body has difficulty digesting lactose. Lactose is present in milk. This can cause diarrhea, pains, and bloating.
- Food sugars. Foods high in fructose can cause bloating. This includes foods such as dried fruit, honey, sucrose, onions, and artichokes. Sorbitol is another form of sugar found in chewing gum and ‘sugar-free’ desserts. It can cause gas and bloating.
- Side effects of Medicines. Excessive gas or bloating are side effects of common medicines. Medicine such as metformin for diabetes. Lactulose, which is a laxative, is also another example. Take antacids along with medicines to aid digestion and reduce gas. Magnesium trisilicate is a common antacid, for instance.
- Bloating is a symptom of diseases. Few diseases of the bowel like acute gastroenteritis are from infections of the stomach. Similarly, few result in increased gas formation and bloating of the abdomen. Long-term diseases like cause abdominal bloating in the patients. Diseases such as Coeliac disease (gluten intolerance), for example. Additionally, inflammatory bowel diseases cause abdominal bloating. Inflammatory bowel diseases include ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or inflamed gut.
Causes From Other Medical Conditions
Other medical conditions that cause bloating are, for instance:
- Diverticulitis- infection of the large intestine
- Also, short bowel syndrome may stem from a complication of bowel surgery.
- Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine may occur because of abdomen surgery. It also occurs from the history of diabetes or diverticulitis. Typically, a course of metronidazole may help.
- Scleroderma or thickening of the internal organs and stomach lining. These leads to bloating, constipation and diarrhea.
- To add, ovarian cancer can lead to abdominal pains, bloating and loss of appetite, too.
- Giardiasis- a diarrheal disease from parasites.We also know this condition as giardia. A classic symptom of this infection is belching up foul-smelling gas.
Most people with occasional abdominal bloating symptoms do not need any tests. But, consult with a doctor if the pain is unbearable. Additionally, seek medical help as well if symptoms are re-occurring. Serious symptoms include, for example:
- Persistent diarrhea with blood in the stools
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
The medical tests may include, for example:
- A stool sample. This is to check for traces of infection, blood, and high levels of fat (which causes poor digestion)
- A test for lactose tolerance
- X-rays of your abdomen
- Endoscopy of your stomach using a tiny camera
- A blood test for celiac disease and any other disease as well
Best way to relieve bloating
There are ways to relieve bloating. One can try the tips mentioned below to ease the condition of excessive flatulence and constant bloating.
- Avoid foods that cause bloating at all costs. Even though allergy to foods can vary from one person to another, certain food can cause bloating. Foods such as milk and dairy products. Certain fruits and vegetables may cause bloating, too. Also, whole grains, artificial sweeteners, and fizzy drinks can cause bloating too.
- People who are lactose-intolerant should avoid milk. Additionally, gluten intolerant people should avoid wheat grains and starches.
- Probiotics or live microorganisms are helpful aids to digestion. Importantly, include probiotics in a regular diet. These gut-friendly bacteria include lactobacilli or bifidobacteria.
- Include fiber-rich food in your diet. In fact, this may help prevent constipation and reduce bloating. Linseed and oats are two fiber-rich foods.
Regular physical exercise:
- Daily physical exercise is very helpful to improve digestion and avoid bloating. For instance, walking and jogging are as good as routine physical exercises.
It medications are not helpful
Medication and lifestyle changes are not always helpful. Thus, psychological therapies can work for some. Therapies include mindful awareness and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Of note, these methods benefit those with poor diet choices or do not exercise. A speech therapist may help those who swallow excessive air while eating.
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