Health A to Z

Bloating

Find out if your bloated stomach is just from eating the wrong foods, or something more serious.

bloating, bloating causes, symptoms, treatment

Struggling to button up your jeans? A bloated tummy is uncomfortable but it’s usually easily remedied with some simple diet changes. When abdominal bloating is accompanied by other symptoms, it may signal a more serious disorder, such as celiac disease.

Bloating causes A bloated stomach is often the result of gas in the intestines from eating fibre-rich foods such as beans, fruits and vegetables or fatty foods. If you’re bloated, it may be due to overeating, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or food intolerance such as lactose intolerance. Sometimes bloating occurs because of stress, smoking, bacterial overgrowth in the small bowel or from swallowing air as a nervous habit. Bloating is also a symptom of more serious conditions, such as celiac disease and ovarian cancer.

Bloating symptoms When you’re bloated, your stomach feels tight and full and may appear distended. Stomach bloating may also occur with gas or abdominal pain. When bloating occurs after a heavy meal, you may also have gas or heartburn. If bloating is a sign of another medical disorder or condition, it may be accompanied by other symptoms. For example, when bloating occurs around your period, you may also notice that you’re having mood swings and menstrual cramps.

Bloating diagnosis/tests If you have abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, heartburn that is worsening or bloody stools, see your health care provider. She’ll conduct a physical exam and take your medical history to find out if you have other symptoms, such as weight gain or a missed period. She may order tests such as blood tests, an abdominal CT scan or ultrasound or a colonoscopy, to name a few.

Bloating treatment Bloating from a heavy meal will usually resolve itself within a few hours. You may feel relief if you pass gas or have a bowel movement. If your bloating is the result of constipation, add more fibre to your diet. If IBS is to blame, consume more fibre, reduce stress in your life and see your physician. If you suspect a food intolerance, cut out dairy for example, and see if the bloating improves. If bloating doesn’t go away, worsens or your belly is tender, see your physician.

Bloating prevention To guard against bloating, avoid gassy foods, such as beans, lentils, turnips and cabbage. Don’t chew gum or consume beer or carbonated drinks, particularly those with the sweeteners fructose or sorbitol. Quit smoking and slow down when you eat.

Outside resources
Gas, Bloating and Burping