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There are 45 possible causes of abdominal bloating

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What Is Abdominal Bloating?

Abdominal bloating is a condition in which the abdomen feels uncomfortably full and tight and may be visibly swollen (distended). Bloating is a common complaint, affecting between 10 and 30 percent of adults (Thiwan).

According to Dr. Syed Thiwan of the University of North Carolina, abdominal bloating can interfere with a person’s ability to work and participate in social or recreational activities. When compared with people who do not have abdominal bloating, sufferers use more sick days, visit the doctor more often, and take more medications (Thiwan).

What Are the Symptoms of Abdominal Bloating?

The symptoms of bloating can be vague and difficult to pinpoint, but most people describe an uncomfortable feeling of fullness, tightness, or swelling in the abdomen. This can be accompanied by pain, excessive gas (flatulence), frequent burping or belching, and abdominal rumbling.

What Causes Abdominal Bloating?

The most common causes of abdominal bloating are:

  • swallowing air
  • constipation
  • heartburn
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • intolerance to dairy products
  • eating too fast
  • weight gain
  • overgrowth of bacteria in the small bowel
  • menstruation
  • giardiasis (intestinal parasites)
  • anatomical or structural abnormalities of the gastrointestinal tract
  • some medications
  • sugar substitutes (fructose and sorbitol)

Abdominal bloating can also be a symptom of several serious conditions, including:

  • fluid in the abdominal cavity (ascites) as a result of cancer, liver disease, kidney failure, congestive heart failure, and other disorders
  • celiac disease (wheat gluten intolerance)
  • ovarian cancer
  • pancreatic insufficiency (impaired digestion because the pancreas cannot produce enough digestive enzymes)

Treatment Options for Abdominal Bloating

In many cases, the symptoms of abdominal bloating can be diminished or even prevented by adopting a few simple lifestyle changes.

  • Don’t chew gum. Chewing gum can cause you to swallow extra air, which in turn can lead to bloating.
  • Limit your intake of carbonated drinks.
  • Avoid “gassy” foods, such vegetables in the cabbage family, dried beans, and lentils.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Avoid drinking through a straw.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Use lactose-free dairy products.

Consult your doctor if bloating is accompanied by any of the following:

  • abdominal pain
  • blood in the stools or dark, tarry looking stools
  • diarrhea
  • worsening heartburn
  • vomiting
  • unexplained weight loss

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Possible Causes - Listed in order from the most common to the least.

1

Gas & Flatulence

Flatulence is a medical term for releasing gas. It occurs when gas collects inside the digestive system. Food choices, swallowing too much air, and digestive problems can all lead to excess gas.

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2

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition that affects the large intestine and causes many uncomfortable symptoms, such as bloating, gas, cramping, diarrhea, constipation, and pain.

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3

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerence occurs when a person's small intestine can't break down lactose, an enzyme found in dairy foods. The condition can cause many gastrointestinal symptoms.

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4

Gallstones

Gallstones are hard deposits in the gallbladder that can eventually block the exiting bile ducts. Abdominal pain, fever, itchy skin, and jaundice are possible symptoms.

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5

Colic and Crying

Colic is when your baby cries for three or more hours a day, three or more times a week, for at least three weeks. Symptoms usually appear during your baby's first three to six weeks of life. According t...

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6

Pregnancy

Bleeding or spotting, increased need to urinate, tender breasts, fatigue, nausea, and missed period are signs of pregnancy.

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7

Ectopic Pregnancy

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Ectopic pregnancies occur when a fertilized egg fails to attach to the uterus. In most ectopic pregnancies, the egg will attach to the fallopian tubes. Less common, it may also attach to the abdominal cavity or cervix...

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8

E. coli Infection

E. coli is a type of bacteria that normally live in the intestines of people and animals. However, some types of E. coli, particularly E. coli 0157:H7, can cause intestinal infection. Symptoms of intestinal infectio...

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9

PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) causes a wide variety of emotional and physical symptoms that occur in the weeks before a woman starts her monthly period.

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10

Indigestion

The feeling of being too full, bloating, heartburn, gas, and nausea are signs of indigestion.

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11

Hyperventilation

Hyperventilation is a condition in which you suddenly start to breathe very quickly. Healthy breathing occurs with a healthy balance between breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide. While hyperventilating...

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12

Ovarian Cysts

The ovaries are part of the female reproductive system. They are located in the lower abdomen on both sides of the uterus. Women have two ovaries that produce eggs, as well as the hormones estrogen an...

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13

H. Pylori Infection

H. pylori are a type of bacteria that may infect around two-thirds of the people in the world. The H. in the name is short for Helicobacter-so called because they are spiral in shape ("helico-," as in the wor...

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14

Malabsorption Syndrome

Malabsorption syndrome refers to a number of disorders in which the intestine's ability to absorb certain nutrients, such as vitamin B12 and iron, into the bloodstream is negatively affected.Proteins, carbohydrates...

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15

Giardiasis

Giardiasis is an infection that affects your small intestine, caused by microscopic parasites called giardia. Giardiasis is spread through contact with infected people and by eating contaminated food or drinkin...

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16

Colitis

Colitis is inflammation of the colon. Other parts of your intestines, which includes, the colon, may also be affected. If you have colitis, you will feel discomfort and pain in your abdomen. You symptoms maybe be mil...

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17

Peritonitis

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

You have a thin layer of tissue covering the inside of your abdomen and most of its organs. This is called the peritoneum . Inflammation of the peritoneum is called peritonitis. The inflammation is caused by a fungal o...

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18

Celiac Disease (Gluten Intolerance)

Celiac disease is a digestive disorder. It is caused by an immune reaction to gluten. Celiac disease is also known as: sprue nontropical sprue gluten intolerance gluten-sensitive enteropathy Gluten is a protein found i...

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19

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a chronic condition that affects the chambers of your heart. You have four heart chambers: two atria in the upper half of the heart and two ventricles in the lower half. Th...

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20

Crohn’s Disease

Crohn's disease is a chronic bowel disease that causes severe inflammation of the digestive tract. It is associated with abdominal pain, diarrhea, and may affect your quality of life. Crohn's disease is characterized b...

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This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose.
Please consult a healthcare professional if you have health concerns.
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