Hard Stomach: Causes and Effective Natural Treatments That Really Work

Hard Stomach: Causes and Effective Natural Treatments
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Bloating around the abdominal region can cause a hard stomach. Some people experience that the area around their stomach becomes hard and rigid after eating or if they have issues digesting food. Usually, the bloating and feeling of tightness in the stomach goes away after passing gas, having a bowel movement, or taking natural remedies to relieve bloating. However, some serious medical conditions can cause your stomach to become hard and bloated.

Apart from causing abdominal discomfort, a hard, rigid stomach can cause embarrassment. Some women say that their stomachs become so stiff and swollen that others think they are pregnant. Of course, pregnancy is one reason for having a larger stomach. But, if your hard stomach is because of a digestive problem, there are many effective home remedies to help you get relief.

This article looks at the different reasons you can experience a hard stomach and what you can do to relieve the bloating.

Symptoms of Hard Stomach

Abdominal bloating and stomach distention are related conditions. According to the journal ISRN Obstetrics and Gynecology, a distended stomach is usually accompanied by more symptoms than just bloating.1

For example, a hard stomach may also be associated with mild to severe abdominal pain and excess gas. If you have excess gas with bloating you may find that you have to belch or pass gas to get relief from bloating. Because indigestion can sometimes cause a swollen belly, you may get cramping pains in your abdomen or a burning sensation in your chest (heartburn).

Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet says that along with abdominal pain, a rigid stomach can cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.2

Causes of Hard Stomach and What to Do About It

Let’s look at the various reasons why your stomach can become swollen and hard. You will also find some easy ways to relieve the symptoms and reduce hardness and bloating around your abdomen. At the end of the article, there are some home remedies you can try at home for general relief from abdominal bloating.

Excess gas

Excess gas is one cause of having a hard stomach that swells to more than its normal size. Gas is a natural process of the digestive process. However, some foods like beans, lentils, and dairy products can cause excess gas that leads to bloating. This can give you a feeling of fullness even though you haven’t consumed much food.

The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders reports that too much gas in the intestines can cause stomach distention. Doctors recommend finding out what is causing the excess gas to help alleviate the symptoms.3

There are many great and effective home remedies to prevent a buildup of gas in your intestines. For example, peppermint capsules can help to soothe indigestion and reduce the abdominal pain and bloating that gas causes.

Chamomile tea is another helpful home remedy to soothe your intestines. The antispasmodic effect of drinking chamomile helps to prevent excess gas and keeps your intestines functioning properly.

Constipation

Severe constipation may be to blame for a hard stomach that is bloated and large. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic describe constipation as having less than 3 bowel movements per week. Also, the stool could become very hard and compacted, which makes passing them even more difficult.4 Of course, there are many reasons why constipation happens.

The effect of constipation on making your stomach hard and rigid was reported in the journal Gastroenterology & Hepatology. Researchers found that bloating is readily seen in patients with constipation, and chronic constipation can lead to stomach distention. They also reported that remedies to relieve constipation usually also reduce bloating and stomach hardness.5

If constipation causes you to have a stiff, rigid stomach, you can try some of my great remedies for relieving constipation naturally. For example, drinking aloe vera juice may help to relieve a hard belly because it is a natural laxative. Studies have shown that drinking aloe vera juice for constipation helps to increase the frequency of bowel movements and soften stool.6

Digestive issues

There are some other digestive issues that can cause a feeling of fullness and pain along with bloating. Some of these are irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and diverticulitis.

Irritable bowel syndrome can cause visible stomach bloating along with other gastrointestinal problems. The journal Gut reported that many IBS suffers also have stomach hardening caused by bloating and distention.7 Dr. Mary Harding on Patient.info reports that swelling in the lower abdomen along with pain, constipation, and diarrhea is often a result of irritable bowel syndrome.8 For more information on how to treat IBS naturally, please see my article about the best natural remedies to relieve IBS.

Inflammatory bowel disease is inflammatory digestive disorder that includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. IBD can cause diarrhea after eating, abdominal cramping, and leakage from the anus. The National Association for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease reports that abdominal bloating is a common symptom of inflammatory bowel disease.9

Diverticulitis is an inflammation and infection in the digestive tract that can cause your stomach to feel hard and swollen. According to Dr. William Blahd on WebMD, tears in the wall of the colon can cause diverticulitis. The intestinal inflammation can cause bloating or swelling around the stomach area.10 For more information on how to treat diverticulitis naturally, please see my article on the best home remedies for natural diverticulitis relief.

Indigestion

Indigestion commonly causes bloating that can make your stomach feel tight and hard. Indigestion is a term used to describe pain under the ribs after eating that is caused by heartburn or gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD).

Dr. John Cunha on eMedicineHealth says that the discomfort that indigestion causes often results in abdominal pain, bloating, and nausea after eating.11

One way to help relieve indigestion naturally is to drink water with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. Baking soda helps to neutralize the acid that causes indigestion and heartburn. For more information on how to use baking soda for great health, please read my article on the health benefits of baking soda water.

Food intolerances

Sometimes food intolerances can make your tummy bloat and become hard. A common food intolerance that causes bloating and intestinal pain is the inability to digest lactose found in dairy products. The bloating occurs when lactose doesn’t get digested and starts to ferment resulting in bloating, diarrhea, and stomach pain.

Doctors from WebMD say that stomach distension and bloating is a common symptom of lactose intolerance. If you frequently have bloating and abdominal discomfort after consuming dairy products, doctors recommend keeping a food diary to help identify if bloating relates to your diet.12

If dairy causes your stomach to swell and bloat, then you can try using some delicious alternatives to dairy to make sure you get enough calcium in your diet.

Gastritis

If you have stomach pain after eating as well as hard bloated stomach, it could be a result of gastritis. This painful abdominal condition is caused by inflammation in your stomach. Inflammation caused by gastritis is usually the result of an H. pylori bacterial infection or a stomach ulcer.

Dr. Colin Tidy on Patient.info says that stressful life events can cause gastritis, the overuse of certain medications, or an autoimmune reaction can all cause stomach inflammation. Among the symptoms of gastritis, Dr. Tidy says that abdominal bloating is very common and you may feel full after a small meal.13

A natural way to treat a stomach ulcer and get rid of gastritis naturally is to drink potato juice. The enzymes in potato juice help to heal your stomach lining and have many health benefits for your whole body.

Pregnancy

Of course, pregnancy will cause your stomach to become large and hard as your baby grows. However, bloating and stomach swelling is also an early sign and symptom of being pregnant.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that hormonal changes in the early stages of pregnancy can cause bloating. This is sometimes mistaken for bloating before the menstrual period.14

Obesity

The journal ISRN Obstetrics and Gynecology reports that gaining weight and being obese puts a person at more risk of bloating. Studies found that people who started putting on weight found that their bloating problem began around the same time as their weight gain.

There are many safe and simple ways to lose weight. For example, walking more each day and reducing your calorie intake can help burn extra fat and shed extra pounds. You can also try these 12 simple tweaks for weight loss, and incorporate in your diet ginger and apple cider vinegar to aid in weight loss.

Cancer

In rare cases, stomach cancer or liver cancer can cause discomfort and abdominal bloating. Researchers from Cancer Research UK say that a buildup of fluid around the stomach can cause swelling and the stomach becomes hard and rigid.15

However, you will most likely have other symptoms if the bloating is related to cancer. In fact, Cancer Research UK says that symptoms like feeling bloated after a meal, indigestion, diarrhea or constipation, and loss of appetite are unlikely to be cancer.

Home Remedies for Hard Stomach

Apart from the specific home remedies to address the underlying cause of a hard stomach that have been mentioned, there are some general ways to treat bloating and stomach swelling.

Probiotics

One way to improve your digestive health and reduce bloating and feeling of gastrointestinal discomfort is to take probiotics. Probiotics are healthy or “good” bacteria that help break down food in your intestines and balance your gut flora.

Dr. M. Schmulson on Medscape says that several strains of probiotics can help to relieve bloating and distention. Probiotics can help to alleviate the symptoms of IBS and reduce inflammation in the gut. Some people have also noticed that they have less gas, fewer episodes of constipation, and less stomach cramping when they take probiotic supplements.16

In my article entitled 9 reasons to take probiotics, you can find out when is the best time to take probiotics and what to look for when buying it. You can also learn how probiotics can help to reduce food allergy symptoms and why you should always take probiotics after a course of antibiotics.

Low FODMAP diet

You can also reduce the frequency of bloating and stomach hardness by eating foods that don’t ferment easily. The Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility recommends dietary intervention to relieve abdominal bloating.17

Dr. Stephen Sullivan says that the low FODMAP diet can relieve a hard and bloated stomach. The low FODMAP diet eliminates certain types of food that easily break down into sugars in the gut. This can help to prevent many conditions that cause stomach bloating like IBS, excess gas, food intolerances, and indigestion.

Peppermint

Peppermint can help to soothe the stomach and prevent digestive issues that lead to bloating. Studies into the effect of peppermint oil in relieving symptoms of indigestion found that it helped to reduce stomach distention and bloating. The University of Maryland reports that 75% of IBS sufferers who took enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules had a significant reduction in bloating, excess gas, and other IBS symptoms.18 

Hard Stomach – When to See a Doctor

In most cases, having a hard and bloated stomach is just a temporary discomfort that passes. Very often, home remedies help to get quick relief from the causes of a hard stomach. However, sometimes, a distended stomach is a sign of a more serious health condition.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that you should visit a health care professional for bloating if you also have the following symptoms:19

  • Severe pain along with a hard and bloated stomach
  • Blood in your stools
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Skin that appears yellow
  • Tenderness around the abdominal area

Read my related articles:

Article Sources

  1. ISRN Gastroenterol. 2012; 2012: 721820.
  2. MedicineNet. Distended stomach symptoms and signs.
  3. IFFGD. Understanding bloating and distention.
  4. MayoClinic. Constipation.
  5. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2014 Sep; 10(9): 561–571.
  6. Herbal Medicine. Metabolic effects of aloe vera.
  7. Gut. 2008 Jun; 57(6): 756–763.
  8. PatientInfo. Irritable bowel syndrome.
  9. Crohnsandcolitis. Managing bloating & wind.
  10. WebMD. The basics of diverticulitis.
  11. eMedicineHealth. Indigestion.
  12. WebMD. Abdominal bloating and swelling.
  13. PatientInfo. Gastritis.
  14. MayoClinic. Getting pregnant.
  15. CancerResearchUK. Liver cancer symptoms.
  16. Medscape. The treatment of functional abdominal bloating and distension.
  17. J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2013 Oct;19(4):433-53.
  18. UMM. Peppermint oil.
  19. MayoClinic. Abdominal pain.
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