Bloating is the swelling (bulging) of the abdomen, often accompanied by an unpleasant feeling of fullness or tightness. While this can cause your abdomen to become larger than normal and clothing to fit around the waist, the bloating is not caused by excess belly fat. This most often occurs after a heavy meal, but is also associated with gluten intolerance, a buildup of digestive gas , or, if you're having your period, fluid buildup during your period. Effective prevention or reduction of swelling depends on the cause. This can often be prevented with measures such as changing your eating habits or taking medications to prevent or relieve gas.
What is swelling?
Bloating is swelling that causes the abdomen to become larger than normal. It is not caused by excess fat, but by overeating, gas, or excess fluid during your period.
Most often, bloating is associated with eating habits or with certain foods and drinks that cause gases to build up in the digestive system, including carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and sometimes methane or sulfur (causing discomfort). smells when gas comes out).
Food-related causes of bloating include:
- Too Much Food – Stomach Tissue Stretches – If you put more than it can easily hold, it stretches so much that it comes out.
- Eating too fast: Eating food without interruption doesn't give your stomach or brain time to recognize the signs of fullness. By the time your body reaches it, 15 to 20 minutes after eating, you may feel like you've eaten two or three meals instead of one.
- High- fiber foods : Whole grains and other high- fiber foods can cause bloating, especially if you are not used to eating them.
- Constipation. Stool that collects in the intestines can cause swelling in the lower abdomen.
- Swallow air : When you chew gum or drink soda, you mostly consume air. The same goes for drinking from a straw.
- Drinking alcohol: Alcohol of any kind can cause temporary bloating due to irritation of the stomach lining. Fizzy drinks (beer, champagne, soda cocktails) can be especially troublesome. People who abuse alcohol can develop a condition called alcoholic gastritis , an inflammation that tends to get worse after overeating, causing bloating and other symptoms.
- Lactose intolerance: People with lactose intolerance lack lactase, an enzyme necessary to digest the sugar in dairy products and, as a result, experience nausea and bloating for 30 minutes to 2 hours after eating foods such as milk or the cheese.
- Gluten – Some people who are sensitive to gluten (a protein found in wheat and other grains) or who have celiac disease may experience gas and bloating after eating gluten-laden foods.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) : Certain foods, such as artificial sweeteners, certain fruits and vegetables, and / or dairy products, can cause unpleasant gas and discomfort in some people.
Hormonal fluctuations that occur during menstruation can affect fluid levels in the body. Bloating is common during menstruation and is a key sign of PMS .
The most obvious symptom of bloating is visual: your belly will appear "bulky" and round, and the skin around your belly may appear stretched and taut. The swelling can even affect how clothes fit around your waist, sometimes to the point where you want to loosen your belt, undo the top button on your pants, or get sweaty.
Depending on the cause, the bloating may be accompanied by discomfort, a dull or rumbling noise in the abdomen, nausea, or gas (flatulence and / or belching).
Bloating will persist until food is digested from an overly full stomach or accumulated gas is removed from the body.
The most effective way to deal with bloating is through diet and lifestyle changes. If you can identify the food or eating behavior that is causing the bloating, you can avoid them and effectively prevent bloating .
- Don't eat too much . Don't Increase Your Portions – Keep your food and snack servings in moderation. Better to have a few seconds than to fill your head.
- Eat slowly and enjoy each bite . Swallowing food will keep you from knowing when you're full until it's too late, and it can also draw air into your body.
- Avoid gassing food. They can be fried fatty foods, sugar substitutes, or any ingredient you're allergic or sensitive to.
- Add fiber slowly . Healthy high-fiber foods can help you feel fuller (which makes them great if you're trying to lose weight), but they can also cause gas and bloating if you're not used to eating them. Add them slowly to your diet.
- Avoid carbonated drinks. Bubbles in soda are gas, so you may feel bloated after drinking them.
If, despite your best efforts to prevent swelling, you are still experiencing it, there are over-the-counter medications that can suppress swelling and ease discomfort .
- Antacids such as Mylanta II, Maalox II, and Di-Gel contain simethicone, which attaches to the stomach vesicles, making it easier to burp.
- Activated charcoal tablets can remove gas from the colon.
- Lactaid, Lactrase, and Dairy Ease contain lactase, which helps prevent gas in people with lactose intolerance.
- Pepto-bismol (bismuth subsalicylate) can help reduce bloating caused by an upset stomach .
- Beano or Gas-Zyme 3x are over-the-counter products that contain an enzyme called alpha-galactosidase. It breaks down complex carbohydrates in carbonated foods into more digestible sugars before they reach the colon. This helps prevent gas formation before it starts .
- Probiotics are "good" bacteria that help maintain a healthy microbiome in your digestive system. They can be found in foods like yogurt and over-the-counter supplements.
- Movement and massage. Gentle exercise (such as walking around the block or doing yoga) can help eliminate gas in your digestive system. Certain types of massage can also be helpful.
When to contact a healthcare provider
Swelling is rarely a sign of a serious health problem. However, bloating, which is chronic and does not respond to changes in eating habits or over-the-counter treatments, is sometimes associated with certain diseases and conditions.
Bloating with abdominal pain, bloody stools, persistent diarrhea, or vomiting is especially dangerous and can be a sign of a number of serious diseases and conditions, including colon cancer , intestinal obstruction , celiac disease, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). .
If you notice frequent or persistent bloating or bloating after eating certain foods, especially those containing wheat or dairy products, make an appointment with your doctor. It will be helpful if you write down when you are most likely to experience swelling and under what circumstances.
Get the word of drug information
Bloating is no fun at all, especially if it means your clothes aren't uncomfortable, your belly is bulging, or you have unpleasant or bothersome symptoms like flatulence. This is rarely a concern, and many lifestyle changes that can help treat or prevent bloating are likely to improve your overall health and well-being and are therefore worth making.
Frequently asked questions
In most cases, the sensation should go away after you empty your stomach. This process can take 40 to 120 minutes or more, depending on the size of the food and the type of food eaten. However, this can vary based on your body type, metabolism, and medications you are taking.
One way to prevent bloating is to identify any food intolerances or allergies . For example, if drinking milk causes digestive problems, try smaller portions or switch to oat milk. You can also try eating small meals; for example, instead of three large meals, try five small meals.
It takes your body 15-20 minutes to realize how fat you are. Eating slowly can reduce the risk of bloating.
Drinking through a straw increases the chance that air will be swallowed, which can lead to gas formation. The same is true for carbonated drinks like sodas, which contain a lot of air bubbles.