Abdominal bloating is a condition in which the abdomen feels full and tight.
Bloating is a feeling of fullness in the abdomen that is often associated with some distension and tightness in the abdominal area. This feeling can be quite uncomfortable. If Bloating is the result of excessive intestinal gas the symptoms of burping and flatulence or wind may also be experienced.
Intestinal Gas - is the most common reason for Bloating. Swallowing air, poor digestion, irritable bowel disease (IBS), food allergies, lactose intolerance and constipation are common reasons why the body produces excessive amounts of intestinal gas. Bloating can be related to eating habits and diet. A person with IBS may find that their stomach is flat on awakening but distends progressively throughout the day. For others the bloating can occur within minutes and can be aggravated by eating.
Fluid Retention - can also be responsible for Bloating in women. Irregular ovarian function that occurs during menopause and fluctuating oestrogen levels that occur in premenstrual and menopausal women may cause abdominal fluid retention and Bloating. Women can retain up 20ml of fluid in the abdominal cavity in the days prior to menstruation. Fluid can also accumulate in the abdominal area of both men and women in some cases of heart failure and liver cirrhosis. This type of fluid retention is called 'ascites'.
Other causes - of abdominal Bloating include pregnancy, weakened abdominal muscles caused by pregnancy, abdominal surgery or obesity.
Medical Conditions that can cause Bloating include; bowel obstructions, cirrhosis of the liver, colon or rectal cancer, Crohn's disease, IBS, diabetes, diverticular disease, gallstones, giardia, peptic ulcer disease, splenic flexure syndrome, kidney disease, heart disease and ulcerative colitis. In rare cases abdominal Bloating may be the result of a tumour.
As with all conditions your Doctor should be consulted. Your Doctor will diagnose and treat this condition. Ask your Doctor about the latest advice on this ailment. Bloating is not a serious ailment, however, if the symptoms are severe and persistent it is advisable to see your Doctor. Seek medical advice if Bloating occurs with a change in bowel habits, persistent diarrhoea, constipation, blood in the stool, fever, abdominal pain and bloating, nausea or vomiting.
• Excess intestinal gas may be related to eating too quickly, poor digestion, eating certain foods known to be gas producing, food allergies, food sensitivities and constipation.
• It is best to eat slowly, chew well and eat several small meals and snacks through the day.
• Choosing low fat foods, separating starches and proteins into different meals and including enzyme-rich foods such as fresh pawpaw and fresh pineapple can improve poor digestion. A supplement of digestive enzymes may be beneficial.
• See the list of gas-producing foods in the 'Diet Should Be Low In' section of this topic.
• If constipation is a problem, increase your intake of cereal fibres, fruit and vegetables and drink 6-8 glasses of water daily.
• Milk and other dairy products can sometimes cause Bloating in people with a lactase deficiency. Lactase is the enzyme that breaks down lactose (milk sugar) before it is absorbed by the body.
• Acidophilus is found in yoghurt and helps to increase the good bacteria in the bowel and help destroy the bad bacteria, which can cause Bloating and flatulence.
DIET SHOULD BE LOW IN
The following foods contain carbohydrates that are not absorbed well by the human digestive tract. In some cases eating these foods may produce excessive intestinal gas and Bloating. The following vegetables, fruit beans and legumes are however an important part of a healthy diet and should not be eliminated from the diet.
• Brussels sprouts
• Beans and legumes
• Dark beer
• Red wine
• Sorbitol (a sweetener in sugar-free gum, lollies, and other diet products)
• Fructose (found in fruits and honey, and soft drinks).
• Carbonated drinks
• Fried and fatty foods
• Raw apple
• Milk and other dairy products
Ask your MedAux Pharmacist for advice.
1. Follow the Diet Hints.
2. If constipation is a problem ask your Pharmacist to recommend a suitable fibre supplement.
3. An acidophilus supplement may help to reduce the severity of Bloating by restoring the balance of the friendly bacteria in the bowel.
4. Bloating may result from inadequate digestion. In these cases supplementing with digestive enzymes may help to improve Bloating. Ask your Pharmacist for advice.
5. Swallowing air can be a cause of Bloating. To prevent this, avoid rapid drinking, chewing gum, use of tobacco products, sucking on hard lollies and drinking carbonated beverages.
6. Activated charcoal can be taken as a supplement to help absorb intestinal gas and reduce Bloating.