Journal Your Way To Finding The Culprit
If you get bloated often, say, more than once a month, its worthwhile to figure out what triggers your symptoms. Try keeping a food journal for a few days and write down everything you eat and drink. Be sure you include the ingredients in your meals in case one of those is the actual problem.
As you make that journal entry, note how you feel 30 minutes after you eat. Terrific? Overly full? Tired? Gassy? You may see some patterns that help you figure out if you have any food allergies or intolerances.
Eat At Regular Intervals
Many people experience bloating directly after a big meal. It is possible to avoid this by eating several smaller meals each day, which can help to keep the digestive system moving.
Swallowing food quickly can introduce air into the digestive tract. Drinking from a straw can also lead to people swallowing more air, which in turn leads to gas and bloating. People who have bloating should avoid using straws if possible and try eating slowly to avoid swallowing air during meals.
Food Intolerance And Bloating
Food intolerance can lead to bloating when:
- your bowel does not empty properly
- the food causes gas to be trapped
- too much gas is produced as a reaction to the food
The most common foods to cause problems are wheat or gluten and dairy products.
The best approach if you have a food intolerance is to eat less of the problem food or cut it out completely.
Keep a food diary for a couple of weeks, noting everything that you eat and drink and when bloating troubles you most. But do not get rid of food groups long-term without advice from your GP.
Find out more about food intolerance.
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Hard Stomach During Pregnancy
Generally, you expect a hard stomach when youre pregnant. Your hard-feeling stomach is caused by the pressure of your uterus growing and putting pressure on your abdomen.
The hardness of your stomach while pregnant can be more pronounced if you eat a low-fiber diet or drink a lot of carbonated beverages.
If your experience severe pain along with your hard stomach, you should see your OB-GYN or seek immediate medical attention. Sometimes severe pain in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy is an indicator of miscarriage.
Although more common in the third trimester, in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, discomfort can come from labor contractions or Braxton-Hicks contractions. Typically Braxton-Hicks contractions pass. If the contractions dont pass and become more persistent, it might be a sign that youre going into labor.
It Could Be An Early Warning Sign Of A Serious Condition
It’s rare compared to other reasons on this list, but bloating may signify another issue that has nothing to do with your lifestyle choices. Constant bloating that doesnt go away after your period, or new instances of bloating that are irregular, could be an early sign of ovarian cancer or colon cancer. Bloating could also signal a number of other serious gastrointestinal problems, such as a bowel blockage, ulcer or conditions like Crohns disease.
Pay attention to other symptoms that accompany your bloating, Dr. Christmas says. If you also have constipation, diarrhea, bloody stool, vomiting with blood, pelvic or abdominal pain, and abnormal uterine bleeding or vaginal discharge, changes in appetite, or start feeling full quickly, you should make an appointment with your doctor.
Any time you have any concern thats bothering you, especially if its something new, you need to be evaluated, she says.
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What Causes Abdominal Swelling
Your abdomen could be swollen for different reasons. These range from eating too much to pregnancy. Only your doctor will be able to determine the exact cause of your swollen abdomen.
A common cause of abdominal swelling is gas. Swallowing air as part of a nervous habit or from eating foods that are high in fiber can lead to gas production. If you dont release this gas, it can lead to abdominal swelling.
Why Is My Stomach Bloated
The most common cause of stomach pain and bloating is excess intestinal gas. If you get a bloated stomach after eating, it can be a digestive issue. It might be as simple as eating too much too fast, or you could have a food intolerance or other condition that causes gas and digestive contents to build up. Your menstrual cycle is another common cause of temporary bloating. Sometimes a bloated stomach can indicate a more serious medical condition.
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You Might Have Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic condition affecting the large intestine and routinely impacts those suffering from it with symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain and gas. Dr. Fisher explains that IBS can affect people differently some have more problems with constipation, but others experience diarrhea more often. Either way, bloating is common with IBS.
How Can You Tell The Difference Between Belly Fat And Bloating
When presented with a swollen stomach, the first step is to monitor your symptoms to determine what is the most likely cause. This can enable you to make an informed decision on how you deal with the problem, ensuring that you pursue suitable courses of treatment that deliver the desired result.
With this in mind, here are four important considerations when attempting to distinguish between belly fat and bloating:
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When Should I Worry
Although most digestive issues are down to uncomfortable but not life-threatening conditions such as IBS or heartburn, some symptoms can indicate more serious conditions such as bowel cancer especially if youre over 50.
Consultant general and colorectal surgeon Mr Nick West advises: See your GP immediately if you experience any of the following red flag warning symptoms:
- A persistent change in bowel habit
- Any lumps or bumps around your bottom or stomach
- Bleeding from your bottom
- Unexplained weight loss
- New and persistent bloating should always be checked in women over 45 to rule out ovarian cancer
Is The Swelling Localized Or Widespread
To begin with, examine your stomach visually. Is the swelling localised, or can you identify bulges in other places on your body? If you answer yes to the former, you are most likely suffering from bloating that has targeted the stomach and the abdominal regions. If you notice additional bulges elsewhere and particularly on the thighs, hips and buttocks, however, you are probably carrying excess fat.
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Rule Out Medical Conditions
In some cases, bloating may result from a medical condition. To get rid of this bloating, a person may need help from a doctor to diagnose and manage their condition.
Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis, may cause people to experience bloating. Irritable bowel syndrome , can also cause this symptom.
Gynecological conditions, such as endometriosis and ovarian cysts, can also cause pain, swelling, and feelings of bloating in the abdominal area.
People with these symptoms should discuss them with a doctor, who will also want to know about any relevant family medical history and other medical conditions. The doctor may order diagnostic tests to look for any problems. These may include an X-ray, ultrasound, colonoscopy, or blood tests.
Eat Early To Avoid Heartburn
Acid reflux tends to strike at night when youre lying down, so avoid eating later than 8pm. Try sleeping with an extra pillow to help reduce the backflow of acid and taking a tablet such as Nexium Control which blocks acid production.
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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.
Having A Food Intolerance
Typically, if someone is feels bloated, it is because of their food or water intake, but even if you havent eaten too much, you may have eaten the wrong thing. Certain food intolerances or sensitives to spicy or acidic foods can cause the gastrointestinal tract to have a more difficult time than usual.
An undiagnosed intolerance to foods can cause a lot of bloating, Hoffman said. The body is trying to break down the foods for the body to use, and a lot of gas can be the result of that work.
If you experience a lot of bloating, try keeping a food journal to track what you eat, when you notice bloating and the amount of discomfort you experience.
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Is The Swelling Painful
On a final note, it is important to check whether or not the swelling is accompanied by pain. After all, bloating is almost always a painful experience to some degree or another, whereas excess fat is not known to cause any physical discomfort. The presence of excess gas is also a symptom of bloating, particularly if it coincides with the expansion of your stomach.
You’re Sensitive To Gluten
If you’re not equipped to properly process gluten, it causes an autoimmune response in your intestine walls, which causes swelling, abdominal pain, and gas. This is officially called villous atrophy, and it prevents you from digesting gluten. You don’t have to be allergic to gluten or possess a disease like Celiac’s in order to get bloated from foods like bread and pasta. It could just be that your system is extra sensitive to gluten, so you should either cut down on your consumption of it or throw it out of your diet altogether.
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You’re Consuming Too Much Artificial Sugar
Here’s my hot take on artificial sweeteners: they’re evil. The reason they don’t have any calories is because they were specifically designed to and instead go straight to your colon, where they ferment with the gut bacteria â leaving you with gas and a bloated tummy. Break up with artificial sugar for a while and see if your swollen stomach doesn’t start to subside.
What Can I Do At Home To Prevent Abdominal Distension
Prevention is easier if you know the cause. If you notice that abdominal distension occurs after you eat, you may be able to change your eating habits to prevent it. For example:
- Identify food sensitivities and change your diet accordingly.
- Eat smaller amounts more slowly. Wait longer between meals.
- Drink more water and eat more fiber to prevent the accumulation of waste.
- Try digestive enzymes and probiotics before meals.
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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 .
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:
Swollen Belly 4 Months After Hysterectomy
Asked byhogfan03 on Monday, July 15, 2013
Swollen belly 4 months after hysterectomy
I had my first 4 month follow-up visit with gyn oncologist since da Vinci surgery. One of the questions I had was why my stomach would get so swollen early in the afternoons and stay that way till I woke up the next morning. I told him it feels like I am extremely bloated and uncomfortable and I cannot fit in most of my pre-surgery clothes. It has been 4 months since my surgery and he said after 2 months the swelling would be gone. He asked if I changed my diet and I said no. The two options he mentioned was gas and to watch my diet and eat foods containing good bacteria or that it could be scar tissue from the surgery. I asked how long it could last and he gave me the don’t shoot me look but said there is a possibility it may not go away. Has anyone else experienced this? I have read on the hystersisters site that swelly belly can last 6 months to a year but my dr did not seem to agree. Is it gas or scar tissue? Tired of only being able to wear stretchy pants. Thoughts?
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You Have A Lactose Intolerance
All it takes is half an hour for your belly to swell up after you’ve drank a glass of milk. Because our bodies produce less and less lactase as we get older, the enzyme we need to break down cow’s milk, it becomes harder to digest dairy as an adult.
Lactose intolerance is much more common than you might think, especially among people of color. At least 98 percent of Southeast Asians, 90 percent of Asian-Americans, 74 percent of Native-Americans, 70 percent of African-Americans, and the majority of Jewish, Latino, and Indian people have it. So if you fall into any of those categories, see if nixing dairy from your diet doesn’t zap away the swelling.
Check For A Food Intolerance Or Allergy
Occasionally, a wheat allergy or lactose intolerance results in a lot of undigested food that can be acted on by bacteria and cause bloating, says Dr Chopada.
If you want to reduce bloating consider food intolerances, says Claire. The most common intolerances are lactose ,fructose , wheat and gluten, and eggs. You can do this by cutting out food you think you might be intolerant to and seeing how your body reacts. If you arent sure, find a specialist who can test you, she advises.
Over the counter medications like Deflatine tablets can help, adds Dr Chophada.
Drinking enough water can actually reduce bloating, rather than cause it.
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Where The Fluid Builds Up
Fluid builds up in the abdominal cavity. This is the area of the body below the ribs and lungs and above the hip bones. It contains the stomach, small and large bowel, pancreas, liver, spleen, and kidneys.
The fluid collects between the 2 layers of tissue that surround the abdominal organs. These layers are called the peritoneum. One layer lines the wall of the abdomen. The other covers the organs.
The peritoneum usually produces a small amount of fluid. This helps the organs in the abdomen to move smoothly.
Sometimes a large amount of fluid builds up between the 2 layers, which makes the abdomen swell. This can be very uncomfortable.
This fluid build up is called ascites.
Consider If Your Bloating Is Lining Up With Your Menstrual Cycle
If youre someone who has periods, thats another factor to track when youre looking for patterns in your bloating, says Dr. Cohen. A 2014 study in BMC Women’s Health asked 156 women about their gastrointestinal symptoms before and during their periods. The results showed that bloating was the most common GI-related symptom pre-menstruation and the second most common during menstruation. Unlike bloating due to digestive issues, bloating related to your period could happen because of fluid retention rather than gas.
Bloating thats connected to your menstrual cycle is pretty normal. But that doesnt make it much fun. If youve also noticed that certain foods make you feel bloated, consider limiting them in the days leading up to your period . To help reduce water retention, the Mayo Clinic recommends steps like curbing your salt intake if you think sodium may be a factor.
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How Is Bloating Diagnosed
Your doctor can generally diagnose the cause of your bloating through a physical exam in the office. They will ask you questions about your symptoms. They will want to know if your bloating is occasional or if it occurs all the time.
Temporary bloating is usually not serious. If it happens all the time, your doctor may order other tests. These could include an imaging test to look inside your abdomen. This could be an X-ray or CT scan.