Bloating 101: Why You Feel Bloated
When to Ask Your Doctor About Bloating
Temporary bloating is common and nothing to worry about. But if you’re
troubled by bloating on a regular basis, talk to your doctor.
Physical obstructions such as scarring of the stomach opening can make it
hard for food to pass through the digestive tract normally. If your doctor
diagnoses a physical obstruction in the stomach or small intestines, surgery
may be required to correct it. Bloating can also be caused by impaired muscle
function in the digestive tract. When muscles that normally move food along
don’t work properly, gas can build up in the small intestines, causing
bloating. In some cases, gas in the intestines may go the wrong way, returning
to the stomach.
Persistent bloating or distention may also signal potentially serious
conditions, such as enlargement of one of the abdominal organs or a malignancy.
What Else You Can Do About Bloating
If eliminating or reducing consumption of hard-to-digest foods doesn’t solve
your frequent bloating problem, there are over-the-counter medications that
might help. Look for a pill or liquid containing alpha-D-galactosidase, an
enzyme that breaks down indigestible sugars in beans and vegetables. Tablets or
capsules containing simethicone can also help alleviate symptoms of excess
If you’re a smoker, intestinal distress may be one more reason to quit.
Smoking has been linked to bloating, heartburn, and other digestive
Fortunately, bloating is rarely a symptom of serious trouble. For most
people, the most effective prescription for bloating is simple: control portion
sizes, go easy on fats, and eat slowly enough to give your body time to signal
when you’ve had enough. These sensible remedies should keep you from feeling
overstuffed and bloated.