If you have been sweating away at the gym to lose those extra pounds of flab around your belly and still getting nowhere, the reason might be stomach bloating. Bloating is a disorder of the intestine where a person may have drastic changes in the size of the lower abdominal region throughout the day. This is generally accompanied by pain in the abdominal cavity, feeling of ‘fullness’ or ‘pressure’ in the stomach, substantial discomfort after a meal such as excessive gas and pain and a feeling of being weighted down. Bloating is normally caused by digestive problems, which result in buildup of excessive gas, which gets trapped in the small intestine. These digestive problems may arise primarily due to incorrect diet, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), stress, or anxiety among other reasons. Bloating may also show up due to water/fluid retention in the body due to various reasons. Some chronic sufferers may have food intolerance to certain kinds of food, which causes higher than normal amounts of gases to buildup. There are many remedies to get rid of stomach bloating either by medication or natural means. Read on to know the causes, symptoms, and treatment of stomach bloating.
Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Of Stomach Bloating
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a major cause of bloating and is characterized by abdominal pain, sporadic diarrhea and/or constipation, nausea, gas, headaches, fatigue, etc. It is related to abnormal muscle spasms.
- Food intolerance is the inability of the body to properly break down and digest certain foods. The reason for this is lack of specific enzymes needed to break down food. As a result excessive gas is formed which stretches the gut.
- For many women, bloating is related to hormones and the result of fluid buildup especially in the week prior to menstruation.
- Diseases that cause intestinal inflammation or obstruction, such as Crohn’s disease or colon cancer, may also be a cause of abdominal bloating.
- Eating too much fatty food may also be a cause of bloating, as fat takes longer to digest completely.
- Swallowing too much air while eating, chewing gum, smoking or anxiety and stress can also cause bloating.
- An imbalanced diet with too much salt intake, inadequate protein and water intake, sudden increase of fiber in the form of gas producing beans or dark leafy vegetables, excess alcohol and carbonated drinks all contribute to bloating.
- Abnormally high production of gas is a common symptom related to bloating. As food is not digested properly, passing gas is debilitating and smelly gases like hydrogen sulphides and/or mercaptans are produced apart from the normally produced methane, sulfur, hydrogen and carbon dioxide.
- The stomach is generally expanded and hard. As the gases accumulate in the lower intestine, the gut seems abnormally distended.
- Flatulence is frequent and the smell is unpleasant.
- There is a persistent feeling of fullness and pressure in the stomach. The discomfort aggravates after a meal, with increase in feelings of restlessness, difficulty in breathing and pain.
- There is also a chance that the stools are darkened and bloody.
- Abdominal pain is a common symptom. The degree of pain may vary from mild to severe. There is feeling that the stomach has cramped.
- The size of the lower abdominal region changes frequently throughout the day.
- Drinking lots of water, up to at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day is a natural remedy for bloating and digestion problems.
- Beverages with low calories and little or no caffeine and sodium content, such as, ginger tea, peppermint tea and other herbal teas are also good for digestion.
- The diet should be planned and should be made balanced. Fiber should be increased in the diet by introducing lots of vegetables and fruits, protein intake should be increased, and fatty food should be reduced. Carbonated drinks and food with high sodium content should be avoided.
- The food should be eaten at a moderate temperature as very hot or cold food results in excess air being swallowed.
- Food intolerance should be identified and alternatives to those foods should be used. For example, soymilk is a good alternative to milk.
- Chewing gum and smoking should be avoided. Alcohol intake should also be reduced.
- Taking a post-meal walk is good exercise to aid digestion. Also regular exercise will help in secretion of hormones, which encourage bowel activity.
- For women, taking pre-menstrual supplements containing B-complex vitamins and also magnesium and calcium helps in preventing bloating due to fluid retention.
- Getting a diagnosis done is important if these remedies fail to work. There is medication available, which aids in digestion. Enzyme therapy, antacids, and other medicines, which help in expelling gas, are commonly used. Herbal and homeopathic medicines are also an alternative.