Bloating occurs when your abdomen enlarges and feels full and tight. Your stomach may even look like it’s sticking out. Bloating is a common occurrence for many people. Somewhere between 10% and 30% of people experience bloating. Many conditions can cause bloating, often making it difficult to determine its cause. Common reasons for bloating include:
Everyone has gas in their intestines when they eat, but some people’s bodies react more severely to the gas, which can cause bloating. A newer theory about gas and bloating is that some people’s nervous systems are more sensitive to gas, causing an overreaction in the gut, which causes bloating. More research is needed to establish this theory.
Many gastrointestinal (GI) disorders can be responsible for bloating, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, constipation, and air swallowing. One study showed that 96% of people with IBS experience bloating.
Some in the medical profession think that bad bacteria in your intestines might cause bloating. The theory is that bad bacteria build up in your intestines, producing more gas in your GI tract, which causes bloating.
Some medications can cause bloating as a side effect, including aspirin, fiber supplements, and certain pain medicines.
Remedies and Treatments for Bloating
Once a cause of bloating is established, the symptom can be treated. Depending on your doctor’s findings, he or she may suggest one of the following remedies for bloating:
Eating too quickly causes you to swallow more air, which can lead to gas and bloating. Eating slowly can help reduce bloating. Additionally, slowing your eating can make you feel full, faster, helping you avoid overeating, which can lead to bloating.
Changing Your Diet
If you notice a trend in certain foods causing you to bloat, try reducing or eliminating those foods from your diet. Foods that commonly cause bloating are wheat, beans, lentils, garlic, onions, and asparagus. Milk and dairy foods can also cause bloating, as some people have a hard time digesting a sugar they contain called lactose.
Researchers have found that certain antidepressants can affect the way your body reacts to gas, keeping it from overreacting to its presence.
Eating too much fiber is one of the most common reasons for bloating. Fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet, but it can cause a lot of gas in your digestive system because your body cannot digest it. The key with fiber is to eat it in moderation. Foods high in fiber include beans, lentils, broccoli, whole wheat, apples, berries, and quinoa.
Over-the-Counter Gas Products
There are a handful of products that may help reduce gas levels and ease bloating:
- Simethicone helps you pass gas bubbles trapped in your intestines.
- Alpha-galactosidase helps break down the carbohydrates in vegetables and beans.
- Activated charcoal may reduce gas symptoms, but research has not shown a clear benefit. It should be noted that activated charcoal could interfere with the absorption of certain medications, so discuss with your doctor before taking this product.
- Lactase supplements help you digest the sugar lactose in dairy products.
If you prefer herbal remedies for health problems, peppermint oil and peppermint tea are shown to help reduce bloating.
When to See A Doctor
Bloating is a common occurrence that usually causes nothing more than temporary discomfort. However, there are circumstances when bloating should be taken more seriously.
If you have bloating and also experience a drastic change in weight or major changes in your bowel movements, you should tell your doctor. These symptoms could point to an underlying condition.
If you are an older person who doesn’t usually experience bloating, and you suddenly experience bloating for more than a few days, see your doctor. The bloating could be caused by a serious condition and should be investigated.