Bloated Stomach: 8 Common Reasons and How to Treat Them (Evidence Based)

Bloated Stomach: 8 Common Reasons and How to Treat Them

Abdominal bloating is an unpleasant fact of life and it may be a result of a number of reasons. Bloating happens to us all from time to time and is a common complaint amongst people of all ages.

The symptoms of bloating vary and can range in severity from extremely mild to severe enough to cause pain. They commonly include feeling excessively full after meals. For some people the bloating can be so bad that it leads to flatulence and burping, abdominal noises, hard stomach and swelling.

Why Bloating Happens

Abdominal bloating is the result of excess gas in the digestive tract. It happens for two reasons:

  • Firstly, the digestive process itself releases gas from the food as it is broken down.
  • Secondly, certain habits can cause you to swallow air. When the two combine, it can be an uncomfortable experience.

For many, bloating is an occasional inconvenience and for most people the problem resolves itself after a few (uncomfortable) hours. If you are suffering from regular episodes of bloating, however, there are a few simple lifestyle changes that you can make to help you feel less uncomfortable.

Reasons You are Bloated All The Time

1. You Eat Too Much Or Too Quickly

According to a medical study, eating too much food is one of the most common causes of bloating (this is also one of the 12 hidden reasons you’re not losing weight). The gas created by the digestive process is unable to disperse and just sits in the gut.

Try serving yourself smaller portions but allow yourself more time to eat it.

It takes approximately 20 minutes for the brain to recognize the body’s signals that it has had enough, so if you eat more slowly you are less likely to overeat. Portion control is also one of the 3 changes for losing weight.

Taking the time to savor each mouthful has other benefits as well. Chewing your food more thoroughly helps get the digestive process underway (saliva is a digestive juice which helps to break down food).

Finally, people who eat too fast often gulp air along with their food adding to the gas in their bellies. Preventing this can help to ease abdominal bloating.

2. You Are Swallowing Air

It is not only eating too fast that can lead to excess air in the abdomen.  The following habits can lead you to swallow air:

Try cutting these things out and see if they help you feel any better.

3. You Are Stressed

Stress or anxiety causes physiological changes in the body. Among those is the reaction which diverts blood from the digestive system and into other parts of the body. This makes the digestive process less efficient which can lead to bloating. In some people the response to stress also causes changes to their breathing which results in them gulping air.

If you are nervous or anxious try some simple breathing or relaxation exercises to help you feel more in control. You can also use essential oils for anxiety and natural remedies for stress.

4. You Are Eating Gassy Foods

Some foods are more likely to cause bloating and excess gas than others.

Fat is the hardest food group to digest, so very rich meals and can lead to bloat. Fat takes longer to digest than protein or carbohydrates, so it keeps the stomach full longer.

Examples of gassy foods include beans and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage). Some people are more susceptible to certain vegetables and fruits than others. Whole grains which are very high in fiber are also a common cause of gas problems. These foods have incredible health benefits but you may need to eat them in moderation if they cause bloating.

5. You Don’t Drink Enough Water

Most people fail to drink enough water (there are 7 warning signs that tell you your body is lacking water). Insufficient fluid intake can lead to dehydration which prevents bodily systems and functions, including the digestive system, working at peak efficiency. Dehydration has many other side effects.

The foods mentioned above are all a key part of a healthy diet. When you do eat, particularly meals which contain a high percentage of high fiber, you should aim to drink more water. This will help maintain motility within the digestive system and prevent bloating and constipation.

6. You Use Sweeteners

In an effort to cut down on sugar, many people turn to artificial sweeteners (which can make you sick and diabetic) or an alternative such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) (which is also added to many processed foods such as ketchup, bread and even to your coffee). HFCS is also one of the top 10 worst ingredients in food.

In many people fructose is not easily absorbed by the body. Fructose is usually absorbed in the small intestine, but for those with fructose intolerance, some travels to the colon, where bacteria ferment the fructose. This causes the release of hydrogen and methane gases, which cause pain, bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea.

A medical study says that fructose intolerance may cause unexplained bloating, belching, distension, gas, abdominal pain or diarrhea.

Instead of using the above sweeteners, try these 5 natural sugar substitutes. You also need to be aware that sugar-related illnesses are on the rise so make sure you don’t have these signs of excessive sugar consumption.

7. Dairy Consumption May Cause Bloating

Some people have an undiagnosed lactose intolerance and I’ve already mentioned that most people are lactose intolerant. It’s also worth mentioning that milk and certain dairy products can cause excess stomach acid.

A medical study reports that milk consumption may cause “symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, and flatulence in the majority of people with lactose malabsorption”

If you notice that you are susceptible to bloat after consuming dairy then you might need to search for an alternative to traditional milk. You can try these homemade milk substitutes.

8. Your Medications Cause Bloating

According to WebMd, many nonprescription and prescription medicines and supplements can cause gas pain and bloating. A few examples are:

  • Aspirin
  • Antacids
  • Diarrhea medicines, such as Imodium, Kaopectate, and Lomotil.
  • Narcotic pain medicines
  • Fiber supplements and bulking agents, such as Citrucel, Fiberall, and Metamucil.
  • Multivitamins and iron pills

If you have noticed that your bloating symptoms have become worse since starting a new prescription or supplement, it is worth checking with your prescribing doctor who may be able to recommend an alternative.

If you are taking a medicine or supplement that was not prescribed by a doctor, stop taking it. Call your doctor if you feel that you need to continue taking the medicine or need help controlling your symptoms.

Natural Remedies For Bloating

Bloating is usually fairly easy to control if you know what to do. Also making the changes outlined in this article should see a drastic easing of symptoms. But if you still experience the odd bout of bloat and want relief, you can use home remedies to cure gas and bloating.

Herbal Teas For Bloating

Herbal teas have several advantages when it comes to digestive problems: they adsorb gases, reduce stress, help blood flow to the digestive system and eliminate various pollutants. You can find more information in my article about the top 10 herbal teas for better digestion.

Foods To Prevent Bloating

There are certain foods such as ginger, papaya and pineapple that can prevent bloating but there are many other foods that are helpful as well. Find more about them in my article about the top 12 foods to beat bloating.

Abdominal Massage For Bloating

Abdominal massage is a technique that has been used by multiple cultures since the time of the ancients.

The University of Michigan says that abdominal massage can help to move stool along the inside of your colon and help relieve tightness, pressure, cramping and bloating.

Bloating – When to Visit your Doctor

Bloating is rarely serious, but if you are unable to get it under control by following the suggestions in this article, you should consider making an appointment to see a medical professional.

If bloating is accompanied by blood in the stools, vomiting, persistent diarrhea, weight loss or heartburn that gets progressively more painful, you should make an appointment to speak to your doctor. While some abdominal discomfort is not uncommon with bloating episodes, any severe and prolonged abdominal pain should also be cause for investigation.

In the time leading up to the appointment maintain a food diary noting everything you ate and the time of the meal and the timings of any bloating episodes. This should help you and your doctor to pinpoint potential causes and avenues for investigation.

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