Do you feel uncomfortably full? Swelling is normal and it happens to everyone. However, dealing with it can be unpleasant. What exactly is bloating and why does it happen?
Bloating is a feeling of fullness or tightness in the abdomen, which is often due to excess gas or fluid in the GI tract, Dr. Anju Malieckal, a board-certified gastroenterologist at NYU Langone, tells TODAY.com Hospital—Brooklyn. This can cause the tummy to distend or "bloat" beyond its normal size, she adds.
What causes the swelling?
Excess gas in the digestive tract can be caused by swallowing too much air, which often occurs when a person eats too quickly, says Dr. Malieckal. It can also be the result of a digestive problem or the contents of your intestines producing too much methane or hydrogen gas, Dr. Christine Lee, a gastroenterologist at the Cleveland Clinic, tells TODAY.com.
The most common culprit for excess abdominal gas isconstipationonot emptying the intestines completelysays Dr. Lee.
"When you leave the feces...since our body temperature is 98.6 degrees (Fahrenheit), that's a great weather for fermentation to happen, so you start to produce gas, and if you can't expel it, you're left stuck and causes the stomach to become distended and bloated," says Lee.
food sensitivitiesor intolerances (such as lactose intolerance) can also cause excess gas production and bloating, experts say.
Bloating may be a sign of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (also known as SIBO), which occurs when the bad bacteria in the intestines outnumber the good bacteria, Malieckal says.
The swelling may also be related tostressor hormones. Menstruation can cause fluid retention in the abdomen, Malieckal says, which can cause bloating and discomfort. Progesterone drop before a period can alsoslow digestionand result in constipation, Lee says.
“There are a number of drugs that cause swelling and then malignant tumors, such as gastric cancer orovarian cancer”, dice Malieckal.
If the swelling doesn't go away or is accompanied by decreased appetite, vomiting, or unintentional weight loss, it's time to see a doctor to determine the cause, Malieckal says.
How can bloating be relieved or avoided?
The bloating can cause a variety of symptoms such as abdominal discomfort, pain, and swelling. It can be accompanied by belching (burping) and flatulence (farting), which is the body's way of getting rid of excess gas, Jena Casper, a gastroenterology nurse practitioner with Mayo Clinic Health System, tells TODAY.com .
While it's normal to experience swelling from time to time and you may not be able to completely prevent it, there are ways to relieve symptoms and prevent swelling from getting worse.
Slow down while eating
Eating slowly and making sure you chew your food completely can help reduce the amount of air you swallow, which contributes to excess abdominal gas, experts say.
“Try lowering your fork a little more and just slow down, especially if you're at work short on time or with kids where (you feel like) if you don't eat fast, you can't eat,” Casper says.
Cut out carbonated drinks
If you're bloated, it may be a good idea to cut out or cut down on your carbonated drinks because they can make the bloating worse, experts say.
"I think it's a mistake to think that if you have gas, you should haveseltzerto help with gas, but it can actually cause more bloating and irritation to make you feel fuller," says Malieckal.
Instead, experts recommend sticking to water—and plenty of it—toprevent dehydrationand keep things flowing.
Try peppermint or chamomile tea
A hot cup of herbal tea can be relaxing and can help ease the discomfort of trapped gas. Chamomile and peppermint are some of the experts' top picks. “Peppermint oils have been studied and have been shown to help with intestinal relaxation and relieve bloating,” Malieckal says.
Drinking warm liquids can also help ease constipation and get your digestive tract moving, Casper adds.
Using over-the-counter medications
If you need to relieve bloating quickly, there are several over-the-counter medications that can help reduce excess gas or relieve discomfort and other digestive symptoms associated with bloating, experts say.
These include simethicone, bismuth subsalicylate, the digestive enzyme lactase, or activated charcoal.
If constipation or incomplete bowel movements are to blame for bloating, laxatives or stool softeners can help, but they shouldn't be used for more than 24 hours, Malieckal adds.
While over-the-counter medications can offer immediate relief, they are not a long-term solution. "Anti-gas medications (like simethicone) can help with gas, but they slow down the contractions in the intestine, so they can actually cause constipation," Malieckal says.
Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
A common cause of excess abdominal gas is eating too much at one time, experts say, which can cause people to swallow too much air or excess gas.
Breaking large meals into smaller meals throughout the day can be a good bloat-fighting strategy, Malieckal says. "Instead of three big meals, eat six small ones," she adds.
take a walk
Walkingit can help improve motility in the colon and relieve trapped gas, Casper says, so it's a great idea to walk between meals or immediately after if bloating is a concern.
Exercising too much right after eating can cause indigestion or even vomiting, Malieckal says, so walking is a greatlow impact trainingto get your body moving and digestion flowing.
Avoid trigger foods
If you notice that certain foods always make you feel bloated or you have a known intolerance, experts recommend avoiding those foods altogether if you can.
Some foods are known to trigger excessive gas production or bloating in most people. "These include beans, cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and even raw vegetables like carrots or kale," Malieckal says. You may want to limit or temporarily avoid them if you are already bloated.
If you're not sure which foods are causing your bloating, experts recommend keeping track of your food intake and symptoms.
"I always advise my patients to keep a diary for at least a week so we can determine which foods may be triggering symptoms and then try aelimination diet, dice Malieckal.
Try a warm compress or shower.
Heat can work wonders when it comes to swelling, experts say.
Malieckal suggests placing a heating pad or hot pack on the abdomen to relieve discomfort and pain and to move trapped gas out of the intestines. Even taking ahot showerit can help with the symptoms of bloating, Malieckal says.
Engage Your Core With Abdominal Exercises
Andabdominal workIt might seem like the last thing you want to do when you're bloated, but exercising your core could help release some of the trapped gas and relieve symptoms, Lee explains.
In the longer term,strengthen core musclesit can help with overall digestive health and improve bowel movements, Lee says. "You want to move and engage your abdominal coreobliquesand the lower rectus abdominis muscles of the abdomen," says Lee.
Avoid talking while eating
"Think about how you're eating...do you talk a lot during meals and do you chew your food well?" Malieckal says. Trying to say too many words between bites can cause you to swallow more air as you eat, which can end up in your GI tract, she adds.
You don't have to eat your meals in silence, but make sure you've fully chewed and swallowed your food before launching your next comment.
"The best advice I could give you is to make sure you make time to eat, which can be very difficult," Malieckal says.
bring your knees to your chest
"I always tell my patients that if they feel like they have too much gas, bring their knees up and into their chests whileto poop(like a stubby potty)," Malieckal says.
If you wake up feeling bloated, try rolling over and doing this pose in bed first thing in the morning to relieve gas, says Casper.
try these5 yoga postures to aid digestion.
How I cured my chronic bloating? ›
One of the most effective bloated stomach remedies is improving your diet. Make sure to eat a high-fiber diet, aiming for about 25–30 grams every day or even more, and to drink plenty of water/fluids. Exercising, discussing medication use with your doctor and managing stress can also help.What does a gastroenterologist do for bloating? ›
A GI doctor can help identify the triggers that may be causing IBS bloating. Increasing fiber intake and drinking plenty of fluids, managing stress, and increasing intake of probiotics may be helpful in reducing symptoms. Medications such as antispasmodics or antidiarrheals can be used to relieve symptoms.What home remedy gets rid of bloating fast? ›
- Eat slowly, and consume smaller, more frequent meals.
- Chew your foods well.
- Drink beverages at room temperature.
- Have your dentures checked for a good fit.
- Increase physical activity during the day.
- Sit up straight after eating.
- Take a stroll after eating.
The most common cause of stomach pain and bloating is excess intestinal gas. If you get a bloated stomach after eating, it may 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.What disease causes constant bloating? ›
If you feel bloated often, you may have a condition like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which affects up to 24 of women. Here are some common causes of bloating and tips on preventing this uncomfortable condition.What is the most common cause of chronic bloating? ›
The two most common causes within this category are small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and intolerance to carbohydrates and other food groups.What doctor treats extreme bloating? ›
A visit with a gastroenterologist could be your first step to leading a more comfortable life. Don't live with chronic gas and bloating any longer – schedule an appointment today!What medicine helps a bloated stomach? ›
- Simethicone helps you pass gas bubbles trapped in your intestines.
- Alpha-galactosidase helps break down the carbohydrates in vegetables and beans.
- Activated charcoal may reduce gas symptoms, but research has not shown a clear benefit.
Why Are You Bloated? It's that too-full feeling you get in the belly after you eat a bit too much. Or it might be the type of food you ate, or how fast you ate it, or too much salt, fat, or sugar, that causes gas, weight gain, constipation, or water retention.Can Apple cider vinegar help with bloating? ›
Using ACV for bloating is simple. Adding a tablespoon of ACV to a small glass of warm water and then drinking it before or after a meal or when a person feels bloated is all they need to do. A number of drinks, salad dressings, and other foods also contain ACV that may help to relieve symptoms of bloating.
What can I drink to get rid of bloating overnight? ›
Whether you had a little too much alcohol or had a giant cheeseburger, drinking plenty of water can help you debloat overnight—or even faster, says Burgess. "Although it may sound counterproductive to drink more, water can actually help flush our system and reduce the puffiness."Does lemon water reduce bloating? ›
Lemon water can help with digestion
To relieve bloating, gas, and constipation, drink a cup of lemon water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Lemon contains minerals that promote healthy digestion, alleviate heartburn, and stimulate healthy bowel function by reducing bloat and stimulating bowel movements.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM. ...
- Bifidobacterium lactis HN019. ...
- Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07. ...
- Lactobacillus plantarum LP299v. ...
- Bifidobacterium infantis 35624. ...
- Bacillus Coagulans. ...
- Saccharomyces cerevisiae CNCM I-3856.
Eating is a common cause of bloating because when the body digests food, it produces gas. People also swallow air when eating or drinking, which then enters the gastrointestinal tract. Flatulence and burping usually help to relieve buildups of gas and air in the gut.What causes a big hard stomach? ›
A hard stomach can happen for various reasons, including constipation, gastric cancer, and some chronic digestive conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).What vitamin deficiency causes stomach bloating? ›
Certain nutrient deficiencies can contribute to digestive upset and bloating. The most common nutrient deficiencies that are linked to bloating are zinc, magnesium, molybdenum and thiamin.What cancers cause distended abdomen? ›
- ovarian cancer.
- breast cancer.
- bowel cancer.
- stomach cancer.
- pancreatic cancer.
- mesothelioma in the peritoneum.
- lung cancer.
- liver cancer.
Many people who experience endo belly say they “look pregnant,” even though they're not. Endo belly is just one symptom of endometriosis. Those who experience endo belly often have other gastrointestinal symptoms, such as: gas pain.What causes a distended stomach in the elderly? ›
Functional reasons for a distended abdomen tend to involve digestive problems that cause gas and/or digestive contents to accumulate. Causes might include: Gas from functional indigestion, food intolerances or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Constipation causing a build-up of feces and back-up of digestive contents.What is Chinese medicine for bloating stomach? ›
Bloating in Chinese Medicine is called “Qi stagnation” or “spleen/stomach Qi stagnation”. What this means is that the food which is meant to be broken down and moved through the digestion is getting stuck and not moving.
How long does it take to get rid of chronic bloating? ›
Again, bloat typically goes away on its own within a day, but here are some short- and long-term solutions to help the process along and prevent it from happening.Can Chinese medicine cure bloating? ›
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine work effectively by clearing stagnation and strengthening the digestive process to resolve bloating. To help create lasting change, eating an appropriate diet and learning ways to prevent and manage stress is often recommended alongside acupuncture treatment.Does apple cider vinegar help with bloating? ›
There is no scientific evidence to say ACV helps with bloating. Due to its acidic nature, ACV may help people with poor digestion or low stomach acid levels, but advocates may overstate these claims. With that said, some people may find relief by trying ACV for bloating, especially if they have low stomach acid levels.