www.diseases-diagnosis.com Homepage Diseases Symptoms Diseases Diagnosis Diseases Treatment Diseases Living Care Diseases Prevention Diseases Research
March 26, 2016
Table of Contents

1 Introduction



Bloating is any abnormal general swelling , or increase in diameter of the abdominal area. As a symptom, the patient feels a full and tight abdomen, which may cause abdominal pain sometimes accompanied by increased borborygmus or more seriously the total lack of borborygmus.

The most common symptoms associated with bloating include pain in the abdominal cavity, chest pain, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and bloody or darkened stools. Others include difficulty swallowing or belching, abdominal fullness or indigestion, and excessive gas after eating or drinking. Unexplained weight loss can also be experienced as the amount of food ingested reduces due to a poor appetite and stomach discomfort. Stomach bloating also causes the body to feel fatigue , breathing problems, and pain.

Pains that are due to bloating will feel sharp and cause the stomach to cramp. These pains may occur anywhere in the body and can change locations quickly. They are so painful that they are sometimes mistaken for heart pains when they develop on the upper left side of the chest. Pains on the right side are often confused with problems in the appendix or the gallbladder.

One symptom of gas that is not normally associated with it is the hiccup. Hiccups are harmless and will diminish on their own; they also help to release gas that is in the digestive tract before it moves down to the intestines and causes bloating. Important but uncommon causes of abdominal bloating include ascites and tumors.

Bloating may have several causes, the most common being accumulation of liquids and intestinal gas. Ascites is the proper medical term for abdominal bloating caused by excessive accumulation of liquid inside the cavity.

Specific medical conditions like Crohn's Disease or bowel obstruction can also contribute to the amount of stomach bloating experienced.

Gas and bloating is a sign that food is not being ingested correctly by the body. An inadequate intake of water will cause excessive stomach bloating. Water benefits the body by aiding with digestion because it supports a majority of the body's daily functions. Fatty foods cause a formation of fat cells to develop throughout the body and contribute to bloating as well. A build up of fat cells slows down the body's ability to empty the stomach. Dairy products also contribute to excessive cramps, gas, and bloating. Persons who are intolerant to lactose products experience this effect more than others. Once these foods are digested, the bloating will fade.

Common causes for abdominal bloating are:

  • Overeating

  • gastric distension

  • Food allergy

  • Aerophagia (air swallowing, a nervous habit)

  • Partial bowel obstruction

  • Gastric dumping syndrome or rapid gastric emptying

  • Gas-producing foods

  • Constipation

  • Visceral fat

  • Splenic-flexure syndrome

  • Menstruation, dysmenorrhea

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome and ovarian cysts

  • Alvarez' syndrome, hysterical or neurotic abdominal bloating without excess of gas in the digestive tract

  • Massive infestation with intestinal parasites, such as worms (e.g., Ascaris lumbricoides)

  • Diverticulosis

Important, but uncommon causes of abdominal bloating, include large intra-abdominal tumors, such as those arising from ovarian , liver , uterus and stomach cancer; and megacolon, an abnormal dilation of the colon , due to some diseases, such as Chagas disease, a parasitic infection. Gaseous bloating may be a consequence of cardiopulmonary resuscitation procedures, due to the artificial mouth-to-mouth insufflation of air. In some animals, like cats, dogs and cattle, gastric dilatation- volvulus, or bloat also occurs when gas is trapped inside the stomach and a gastric torsion or volvulus prevents it from escaping.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Bloating from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is of unknown origin but often results from an insult to the gut, and as such can overlap with infective diarrhea, celiac, and inflammatory bowel diseases. IBS is a brain-gut dysfunction that causes visceral hypersensitivity and results in bloating in association with recurrent diarrhea (or constipation) and abdominal pain. While there is no direct treatment for the underlying pathology of IBS, the symptom of bloating can be well managed through dietary changes that prevent the over-reaction of the gastrocolic reflex. Having soluble fiber foods and supplements, substituting dairy with soy or rice products, being careful with fresh fruits and vegetables that are high in insoluble fiber, and eating regular small amounts can all help to lessen the symptoms of IBS (Van Vorous 2000). Foods and beverages to be avoided or minimized include red meat, oily, fatty and fried products, dairy (even when there is no lactose intolerance), solid chocolate, coffee (regular and decaffeinated), alcohol , carbonated beverages, especially those also containing sorbitol, and artificial sweetener s (Van Vorous 2000). IBS is most commonly found in patients around the age of 20 and is found more often in women than men. In people with IBS, the intestines squeeze too hard or not hard enough and cause food to move too quickly or too slowly through the intestines. Other terms used to describe this condition include spastic bowel, spastic colon, and irritable colon. Symptoms of the condition will worsen as a person is placed under stress, during travel, and at other times when the daily routine is tampered with. Common symptoms include bloating, constipation, abdominal cramp or pain after bowel movement, or feeling like a movement is required even after one has been completed.


Most cases of stomach bloating are due to improper dieting. Inadequate intake of fiber and water will cause a person to experience bloating and constipation. It is made by plants and is not digested by the human gastrointestinal tract. Most types of fiber are attached to body water in the intestine and increase the volume of stools. Gas occurs because of the bacteria in the colon and is a by-product of fiber digestion. The most common natural sources of fiber include fruits and vegetables as well as wheat or oat bran. These fibers are most likely to cause flatulence. A diet that is high in fiber will decrease the risk for stomach bloating and help keep the body healthy to fight against disease.

Belching and flatulence

Gas in the gastrointestinal tract has only two sources. It is either swallowed air or is produced by bacteria that normally inhabit the intestines, primarily the colon.

Belching or burping is a universal ability that works by removing gas from the stomach through the mouth. The stomach can become bloated when too much air is swallowed during eating and drinking too quickly. As the stomach swells, belching removes the gas and alleviates the pain associated with it. Burping can also be used as a form of relief from abdominal discomfort other than too much gas in the stomach.

Flatulence or farting works much like burping, but helps the body pass gas through the anus instead of the mouth. Bacteria present in the intestinal tract causes gas to be expelled from the anus. They produce the gas as food is digested and moved from the small intestine. This gas builds up and causes swelling or bloating in the abdominal area before it is released.


A common gastrointestinal problem is constipation, which causes serious cases of bloating. People with infrequent bowel movements or those that pass hard stools or strain during the movements experience constipation. Since most cases of constipation are temporary, simple lifestyle changes, such as getting more exercise and eating a high-fiber diet, can go a long way toward alleviating constipation. Some cases of constipation will continue to worsen and require unconventional methods to release the feces and reduce the amount of stomach bloating. Blood in the stool, intense pain in the abdomen, rectal pain, and unexplained weight loss should be reported to a doctor. Bloating accompanies constipation every time and they will not develop without an underlying cause.

Heartburn and reflux

Painful burning sensations in the chest that is caused by gastroesophageal reflux is known as heartburn. Reflux is the back flow of gastric acid juices from the stomach into the throat. Heartburn has different triggers, including certain foods, medications, obesity, or even stress. These triggers are different for each individual and should be avoided. Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD is a chronic condition that can lead to more serious complications like stomach cancer. Treatment options are available to treat the symptoms and the condition, but there is no cure for the disease. Symptoms include burping, abdominal and stomach bloating, along with pain and discomfort. Heavy meals, lying down or bending over after eating should be avioded to help prevent reflux from occurring. The stomach bloating experienced with reflux is intense and will remain until the food is digested all the way.

Postmortem bloating occurs in cadavers, due to the formation of gases by bacterial action and putrefaction of the internal tissues of the abdomen and the inside of the intestines.

Related conditions

Conditions that are related to bloating include constipation, lactose intolerance, and acid reflux disease . All of these conditions share the same symptoms and can share the same causative agents. These causes include unhealthy diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, low amount of exercise, and overall health. Each of these conditions can be experienced as a symptom of the others and is also a cause for each of them. In most cases where one of the conditions is present, there is at least one if not two of the others. Treatment for each condition is performed using the same medications and recommended dietary changes like increased fiber intake and reduced fat intake. If the conditions develop into disease such as gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) or chronic constipation, additional medications will be required. Bloating and flatulence are sometimes related to constipation, and treating the underlying condition may be helpful.

There are multiple over the counter medications that can be used to treat bloating.

Food enzymes can be found in some products that will help break down the sugars found in grains and vegetables. They can be taken before food is consumed or added to the food that causes the gas and bloating. Another type of medicine is activated charcoal tablets that will decrease the odor from gas. The most common treatment is antacids. These medications have no effect on the gas that is presently in the intestines, but it allows for gas build-up to be belched away easier, reducing the amount of bloating that develops. Another treatment is Simethicone, an oral anti-foaming agent that helps the body to expel the gas more quickly.

Treating without medicine

If bloating is occurring and you do not want to take medications to relieve it, there are a few things that can be done to relieve the pressure in the stomach. Taking a walk after eating a meal is a good way to nudge the contents of the bowels along. Exercising releases hormones that work to encourage activity in the bowels . Herbal teas are also recommended to break up gas bubbles that can develop.

Some foods like coffee and chocolate can stimulate the digestive tract and cause a build up of gas to occur, resulting in bloating. Meals that are high in fat are often too hard for the system to digest and can stimulate spasms and bloating. In addition, foods that are extremely hot or cold can draw air inside as they are being eaten. Foods like bubble gum or bubbly beverages also cause a build up of air that results in excessive gas and bloating, so it is recommendable not to consume them. It is also best to cease smoking and the use of tobacco products. There are also certain types of vegetables and fruits that contain types of starches which are poorly digested by people but well digested by bacteria.

  • Abdominal distension

  • Partly based on Abdominal bloating . MedlinePlus (US public domain Medical Encyclopedia). Update Date: 10 November 2004. Updated by: Christian Stone, M.D., Division of Gastroenterology, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

  • Van Vorous, Heather. Eating for IBS . 2000. ISBN 1-56924-600-9. Excerpted with author's permission at Help for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (see IBS Diet Section)

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "bloating".

Last Modified:   2010-11-21

All informatin on the site is © www.diseases-diagnosis.com 2002-2011. Last revised: January 2, 2011
Are you interested in our site or/and want to use our information? please read how to contact us and our copyrights.
To let us provide you with high quality information, you can help us by making a more or less donation: