Why Do I Feel Bloated In The Middle Of My Stomach
There are several ways to describe abdominal bloating and edema. Some individuals characterize it as a symptomâa sense of indigestion or a tight abdomenâwhile others interpret it as a signâthat their belly is bloated or their clothing are too snug around the middle. Still other people compare it to being pregnant, with a similar sensation of swelling and puffiness.
Abdominal bloating can be a result of many different conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome , celiac disease, gastritis, acid reflux, gallstones, urinary tract infections , anemia, hyperthyroidism, cancer, depression, anxiety, pregnancy, obesity, and fluid retention due to heart failure or kidney disease. The most common cause of abdominal bloating is excessive gas production caused by bacteria in the digestive system. This article will discuss some of the more common causes of abdominal bloating and suggestions on how to treat it.
To diagnose bloating, your health care provider will first want to know about any recent weight loss or gain, changes in bowel habits, symptoms such as cramping, pain, or discomfort during bowel movements, a history of inflammatory bowel disease , allergies, or asthma. Your doctor may also conduct a physical examination and collect blood tests.
Bad Eating Habits = Bloating
Its no surprise that bad eating habits can contribute to bloating. Overeating or eating too quickly can cause that stuffed feeling because your digestive system slows down, trying to process a large or fast intake of food. When you talk while eating, drink through a straw or chew gum, you swallow air that can go into your digestive system, causing bloating.
Processed foods, such as hotdogs and chips, also can create bloating. Many processed foods are high in sodium, which makes your body retain water and can cause your stomach to feel bloated. Sugary foods and snacks break down in your body and can make you gassy.
Even what you drink can upset your stomach. Carbonated beverages like beer and soda contain bubbles with carbon dioxide, a gas that releases into your stomach.
What Tests Might I Need
After the initial exam, your provider will recommend other tests to confirm a diagnosis:
- Ultrasound or CT scan: These imaging scans show your abdominal area in more detail.
- Paracentesis: Youll get a local anesthetic before this procedure. Your provider inserts a needle into your abdomen to remove fluid. The fluid is analyzed for signs of cancer, infection, portal hypertension and other conditions.
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Dehydration: Your Worst Enemy
As we mentioned previously, dehydration can cause you to retain water, which then triggers bloating.So what, exactly, causes dehydration? You can become dehydrated when you:
- Get too much sun or a lot of exposure to heat.
- Drink too much alcohol.
- Eat salty snacks.
When you’re in the sun too long, your body starts retaining water as a safety measure. Think of it as a form of self-defense, since your body doesnt know when it will have its next intake of fluid. Yet even as your body is conserving water, the retention is what may also cause you to feel bloated.
Its important to note that serious illness can result from being dehydrated. You should get help right away if you have one or more of these symptoms after being in the sun too long or you havent been staying hydrated:
- Intense thirst
- Dry mouth, lips, and eyes
- Urinating no more than four times a day
Here are a few tips on healthy hydration.
Bloating: Causes And Prevention Tips
How often do you hear yourself or friends complain about bloating? We often just say we’re bloated when we feel full, but for many women, the problem relates to a chronic underlying condition. If you feel bloated often, you may have a condition like irritable bowel syndrome , which affects up to 24 of women.
Here are some common causes of bloating and tips on preventing this uncomfortable condition.
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What Does A Low
The diet has three phases: an elimination phase, a reintroduction phase and a maintenance phase thats customized to you. During the elimination phase, you’ll avoid all of the high-FODMAP foods a list of specific fruits, vegetables, dairy products and grains. At first glance, the elimination phase of the diet may seem very limited. But theres still a good list of foods in each category that you can eat. It takes some mental discipline to follow, but you wont go hungry on the diet. After two to four weeks, youll begin the reintroduction phase, in which you systematically add foods back in. The third phase keeps what works for you and leaves out what doesnt.
How Do You Fix A Distended Abdomen
If your distended abdomen has an organic cause, the treatment will be very specific to that cause. It might mean managing a disease, infection, growth, obstruction, or injury. An acute case will resolve when the underlying cause has been treated. A chronic case may be treated supplementally with diuretics , laxatives or activated charcoal capsules .
If you have functional abdominal distension and the cause is unknown, it might take some trial and error to manage it. Your healthcare provider may recommend a hydrogen breath test to help determine the cause of excess intestinal gas. They might also recommend you try dietary changes, probiotics or enzymes to improve digestive processes. If they suspect muscle weakness as a cause, they might suggest abdominal or pelvic floor exercises.
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What Causes Bloating In The Stomach
Gas is a natural byproduct of digestion, but too much intestinal gas means your digestion is gone awry. While you can ingest gasses by swallowing air or drinking carbonated beverages, these gasses mostly escape through belching before they reach your intestines. Gasses in your intestines are mostly produced by gut bacteria digesting carbohydrates, in a process called fermentation.
If theres too much fermentation going on, its because too many carbohydrates werent naturally absorbed earlier in the digestive process, before reaching those gut bacteria. That could be for several reasons. Maybe you just ate too much too fast for proper digestion. Or you might have a specific food intolerance or gastrointestinal disease. Some possible causes include:
These can include solids, liquids, and gas. Digestive contents can build up in your digestive system when there is a backup or restriction in your digestive tract or when the muscles that move digestive contents along are somehow impaired. Any build-up of digestive contents along the digestive tract will leave less room for normal amounts of gas to process through. It also leaves less room for other things in your abdomen, including circulatory fluids and fat, making everything feel tighter. Causes of build-up can include:
When Should I See My Healthcare Provider
Seek medical attention if:
- You haven’t been tested for gastrointestinal diseases.
- Your symptoms change or get noticeably worse.
- You are unintentionally losing weight.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Functional dyspepsia can be a frustrating diagnosis for people who experience it and are looking for solutions. On one hand, its a benign condition that wont endanger your life. But on the other hand, there is no definitive cause or cure. Even so, medical testing can help put you on the path to relief. It can identify or rule out certain contributing factors and give your healthcare provider important information about your condition. Your provider will use the evidence they find to prescribe the best medication they can to help you. And if the first prescription doesnt work, that will tell them what to suggest next.
What You Eat Or Drink
What you eat or drink can also lead to bloating.
- Gum and carbonated beverages:These can increase the amount of air you swallow.
- High-fiber foods: These can increase healthy gut bacteria, which can cause bloating if you aren’t used to eating them.
- Alcohol:Wine, beer, and hard alcohol may cause temporary bloating by irritating your stomach lining.
When To See A Healthcare Provider
As noted earlier, the symptom of abdominal bloating is most commonly caused by conditions that are more of a nuisance than life-threatening. That said, it is often the first symptom of ovarian cancer which is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in women and often diagnosed when it is too late, at least to be curable.
Whether your symptoms are due to a serious cause or not, it is important to see your healthcare provider. So-called nuisance symptoms can interfere with your quality of life, and by that measure, are not just a nuisance.
If your symptoms do not improve with whatever treatment is recommended, talk to your healthcare provider or seek out a second opinion. In our overworked, over-busy society, its important to be your own advocate in your medical care, no matter what your symptoms or the condition that is responsible.
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What Is Functional Dyspepsia
Dyspepsia is another word for indigestion. People with chronic indigestion often report feelings of stomach pain, over-fullness and bloating during and after eating. Other common symptoms include acid reflux, heartburn and excessive burping. These symptoms resemble peptic ulcer disease, but when tested, only 1/3 of people will have a stomach ulcer the other 2/3 will have functional dyspepsia.
A functional disorder is an ongoing problem with your bodily functions that cant be explained by physical causes. You have symptoms, and doctors can observe those symptoms, but they cant find any mechanical reason for them. Gastrointestinal diseases are often functional rather than structural. Doctors dont always understand why they occur. It may be that the brain and nerves are involved.
If you have frequent symptoms of indigestion, your healthcare providers will look to see if they can find anything wrong with your GI tract such as an ulcer or structural problem. If they cant, theyll diagnose your condition as simply functional dyspepsia . Sometimes FD is also described as nervous dyspepsia, non-ulcer dyspepsia or pseudo-ulcer syndrome.
You Had A Kale Salad For Lunch
Kale has a lot of nutrition and is a great food option, but its in the cruciferous vegetable family so it may cause bloating, says Allen. The same goes for broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and arugula.
Kale also contains a lot of fiber and a sugar called raffinose, which your stomach may struggle to break down. A good rule of thumb for high-fiber foods from Allen is to drink lots of water to aid the digestion process and avoid bloat.
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What Can I Do To Relieve It
Experts often recommend that patients first try to identify, then eliminate, anything in their diet or lifestyle that might be triggering their bloating or, as I like to say, What floats your bloat. Certain foods, particularly those rich in insoluble fiber like cruciferous vegetables, lentils and beans, are classic offenders.
Other common triggers include fermented drinks like beer and kombucha, the artificial sweetener sucralose, as well as onions and fruits. Occasionally, certain behaviors like drinking carbonated beverages, chewing gum or smoking can raise the risk of bloating by increasing the amount of air you swallow, and cutting back on them can help.
With so many potential triggers, it can be hard or even harmful to experiment with identifying and eliminating problematic foods on your own, so seeking the guidance of a nutritionist is recommended, Dr. Harer said.
In some cases, fixing the underlying cause of your bloating may require more than just dietary and lifestyle tweaks. Patients with gastroparesis or significant constipation may benefit from a drug called prucalopride, which helps empty the stomach and expel waste through the colon. For those with over-reactive intestines, certain medications can help dampen those heightened responses, making patients less likely to react with bloating.
Every person is different, so what causes bloating for your friend or family member is not what might cause bloating for you, Dr. Harer said.
Chronic Gastritis And Peptic Ulcer Disease
Chronic gastritis occurs when your stomach lining becomes irritated or inflamed over time. Severe inflammation can destroy the lining and formation of the stomach or duodenal ulcer .
Chronic gastritis and peptic ulcer disease are classically present with burning or gnawing pain in the upper stomach .
However, many peptic ulcer diseases dont have epigastric pain instead, they are mild symptoms such as indigestion or discomfort .
Chronic gastritis and peptic ulcer disease are commonly due to:
- Infection .
- Irritation by certain foods or medication .
Gastritis often causes frank pain in the upper stomach area rather than a sense of hard stomach.
Common Symptoms of gastritis and PUD:
- Upper central stomach pain sometimes feels like a hard stomach in the upper-middle abdomen.
- The pain is usually dull, vague, burning, or aching pain.
- Associated symptoms include:
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Check For Lactose Intolerance
Lactose is a sugar found in milk.
Your body needs an enzyme called lactase to break down lactose. However, most people dont produce enough of this enzyme to break down lactose once they reach adulthood. The resulting condition is called lactose intolerance (
- Increasing your fiber intake. Aim for 1830 grams per day of both soluble and insoluble fiber from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
- Drinking adequate fluids. Drink 68.5 cups per day of water and other fluids.
- Exercising regularly. Walking, jogging, swimming, or bicycling for about 30 minutes each day may help keep your bowels moving regularly.
Keep in mind that you may need to increase your soluble fiber intake with caution, as this type of fiber is fermented in your colon and may contribute to bloated feelings .
Additionally, adding fiber to your diet too rapidly may worsen constipation, so its important to increase your intake slowly. Aim for an intake of 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men .
While constipation may be relieved with medication, certain types like bulk and osmotic laxatives may make bloating worse, so talk with your doctor about your symptoms to determine whats best for you (
Finally, high amounts of fats in your intestine may retain gas and increase the sensation of bloating. This may be why people often report feeling bloated after fatty meals .
My Stomach Pains Last Days
Edson Chace, 74, is a retired credit manager from Portsmouth, Hants.
Abdomen exam: Normal
Diagnosis: Reflux disease or hiatus hernia requires further tests
Edson says: I suffer from excessive burping about an hour after eating, which started around 10 years ago, but has got worse recently.
I also get bouts of tummy ache which can last several days. I take Omeprazole every day or Im in considerable pain.
Mr Wests assessment: Despite his discomfort, Edsons had no change of bowel habit, which is reassuring.
But hes in a higher risk age group and, given his previous history of reflux symptoms, Im recommending he has a gastroscopy to see if he has gastroesophageal reflux disease .
This occurs when stomach acid flows back into the oesophagus causing heartburn.
Or it could possibly be a hiatus hernia when part of the stomach squeezes up into the chest through an opening in the diaphragm, causing stomach acid to flow back up.
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What Is Bloating In The Stomach
It’s common to feel like your belly is tight, full, and swollen. When your gut is full of food or stool, it’s normal for your belly to stick out a bit more than it did when you first woke up. However, with stomach and bloating, there is more at play.
Many people refer to this issue as stomach bloating, but it is also called distended stomach or distended abdomen. People often describe the sensation as similar to a balloon being blown up in your belly. Women often report looking like they’re several months pregnant. It might also be accompanied by other unpleasant symptoms, such as belching,flatulence, and abdominal discomfort.
There are multiple causes of stomach bloating, and thankfully, there are plenty of remedies and treatments as well.
When Should I Be Worried About Abdominal Bloating
See your healthcare provider if your bloated stomach:
- Gets progressively worse.
- Persists for more than a week.
- Is persistently painful.
- Comes with symptoms of illness, such as fever, vomiting or bleeding.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
A bloated stomach is not a pleasant feeling. While its a common experience and usually temporary, you may become weary of the cycle. Spending a little focused attention on the problem to identify the cause can be well worthwhile. Try recording your symptoms and possible triggers in a journal. Note diet, hormonal and stress factors. When in doubt bring your notes to a specialist for professional guidance. The different factors that contribute to bloating can be complex and difficult to parse, but medical testing can help. As always, seek medical attention if your symptoms are persistent or severe.
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What Is A Low
FODMAP is an acronym for a certain class of carbohydrates, called fermentable short-chain carbohydrates, which are more difficult for people to digest. The low-FODMAP diet temporarily restricts these carbohydrates in order to relieve uncomfortable symptoms and give your digestive system a rest. Removing irritants gives your gut lining a chance to repair itself and can help restore a healthy balance of gut flora. If your symptoms improve, you can use the low-FODMAP diet to figure out which foods to limit in the future.