A More Serious Condition Such As Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a common condition that causes abdominal pain with bloating, diarrhea or constipation. The cause of IBS is unknown, but it may be brought on by certain triggers, including:
- Bacterial infections
- Food sensitivity
- Stressful events
If you think you may have IBS, reach out to your doctor for an evaluation. Many times, lifestyle modifications and medicines can help ease symptoms. You may also try some at-home techniques to relieve your bloating.
Eating Too Much At Meal Times Can Leave You Feeling Bloated
You don’t need to down a Thanksgiving feast in order to feel like a hot air balloon. Even less excessive overeating can lead to feeling bloated. It makes sense. For starters, the sheer volume of the food consumed can expand your normally flat stomach and weigh you down, making you feel bloated. Eating food too quickly can also overwhelm your digestive system, making it sluggish and causing the gas that’s produced while eating to painfully expand your stomach and intestines. But the connection between overeating and bloating doesn’t stop there.
If you’re eating foods you don’t normally eat, that can also promote bloating, Laura Manning, a nutritionist at Mount Sinai Hospital explained to Self. If you’re eating foods with more fat or salt then you’re used to tolerating, she said, “those are two huge factors that can contribute to bloating.” The best ways to eliminate that bloated feeling in a hurry? According to Self, go on a brisk walk to help stimulate your digestive system or brew some mint tea, which can help to relax your digestive system.
Improve Your Carb Intake
Fast-absorbing carbssugar, white bread, and white ricecan raise blood sugar and insulin levels, flatlining your energy levels and stressing your bodys digestive system. Instead, choose slow-burning carbs like oats, barley, sweet potatoes, and wild rice, which provide more sustained energy and help reduce sugar cravings.
That doesnt mean easily digestible carbs are off the table, though. Try eating fast-burning, high-glycemic index carbs right after your workout, when theyll be quickly used up. Focus on fruits like watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, and cucumber for a couple of days for extra bloat-fighting power.
Your body stores carbs with water, so going lower-carb for a couple of daysor focusing on dry carbs like rice cakescan help you attain more defined muscles. Focus your meals around lean proteins such as chicken breasts, egg whites, fish, and extra-lean ground turkey. Include greens and other non-starchy vegetables like mushrooms, bell peppers, celery, and tomatoes, plus a thumb-sized amount of heart-healthy fats like extra-virgin olive oil at each meal.
Dont fall for the low-calorie allure of sugar alcohols, thoughtheyre lower-calorie because your body literally cant digest them well. The result: Gas, bloating, and, in some cases, diarrhea.
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Dont Eat Too Much At A Time
Being stuffed can feel like being bloated, but the problem is that you simply ate too much.
If youre eating big meals and tend to feel uncomfortable afterward, then try smaller portions. Add another daily meal if necessary.
A subset of people who experience bloating dont really have an enlarged stomach or increased pressure in the abdomen. The issue is mostly sensory .
A person with a tendency to be bloated will experience discomfort from a smaller amount of food than a person who rarely feels bloated.
For this reason, simply eating smaller meals can be incredibly useful.
Chewing your food better can have a two-fold effect. It reduces the amount of air you swallow with the food , and it also makes you eat slower, which is linked to reduced food intake and smaller portions .
People who experience bloating often have increased sensitivity to food in the stomach. Therefore, eating smaller meals can be very useful.
Slow Digestion And Bloating
Slow digestion may be due to the type of foods being eaten or may represent an issue with the function of the GI tract. Functional issues should be diagnosed and treated by a healthcare provider.
The most common example of slow digestion is constipation. Constipation can cause bloating because the intestines are physically full of food and this increases pressure in the abdomen. The body attempting to pass this stool may lead to feelings of pain. If this happens regularly or you notice a worsening of symptoms, its a good idea to speak to a doctor.
Managing constipation needs to be done on an individual basis because the cause of the constipation needs to be determined to properly know how to resolve this issue.
Another commonly reported cause of slow digestion is eating a meal that is very high in fat. Not a meal that contains fat, but one with a very large amount of fat or where a high proportion of calories are coming from fat.
Fat can slow digestion and absorption of food. This is actually one of the reasons why eating fat is encouraged to help with satiation and fullness. But for some people, or with some meals, this could work against you.
One way to navigate this is to keep a journal of what you eat and whether you feel bloating or distension after the meal. This could help identify foods or meals that may need some tweaking.
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Further Causes Of Bloating
Too much wind can often feel like an embarrassing topic to cover, but it is also a huge contributor to stomach pain and bloating. Ignoring it can exacerbate symptoms and place higher levels of stress on the body.
To reduce the amount of gas the body is producing, the National Health Service of the U.K. recommends that you reduce the intake of foods such as beans, broccoli, onions, cabbage, cauliflower and sprouts.
It’s still important to get your five portions of vegetables a day, but finding them elsewhere may prevent uncomfortable bloating from occurring.
Excessive Swallowing Of Air
It may seem like an overly simplistic point to make, but swallowing too much air can truly affect the way the digestive system works and how much strain is put upon the muscles. A lot of these tips may seem like advice a mother would give a child, but there’s some truth to the saying that Mother knows best! The National Health Service suggests that you:
- Avoid talking and eating at the same time: This is the easiest way for too much air to enter your body and increase the chances of bloating.
- Sit down while eating: Being too active when consuming food can cause there to be too much airflow through the body.
- Cut down on fizzy drinks: The air from the bubbles of fizzy drinks increase the chances of stomach bloating dramatically, so cutting down on them is not only good for overall health but will also reduce potential discomfort.
- Stop chewing gum: A large amount of air travels to your stomach while chewing gum, so cutting down on this habit will potentially reduce stomach bloating
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Eating More Calories Than Usual
Lets face it. When youre off your schedule, sometimes the most interesting thing you can do is bake. But consuming excess calories especially those found in cookies, cakes and bread can pack on the pounds and cause your belly to bloat.
If cooking is your jam while sheltering in place, reserve high-calorie recipes for special occasions, or cut it back to one meal a week.
Dog Breeds Prone To Bloat
Before we discuss specific bloat causes, I want to address some more defined risk factors for bloat in dogs. ;Breed and anatomy.
The most widely recognized and accepted risk factor is purely anatomical. ;You can tell a dog is going to be at higher risk for bloat just based on his or her structure. ;
Large, deep-chested dogs that have chest cavities that are significantly longer from spine to sternum, when compared to the width of the chest cavity viewed from the front. ;
Put simply, dogs that are narrow in width but who have a deep chest. ;You will see in a moment the list of dog breeds prone to bloat fit this very description.
This body shape may increase the risk of bloat because of a change in the relationship between the esophagus and the stomach. In dogs with deeper abdomens, the stretching of the gastric ligaments over time may allow the stomach to descend relative to the esophagus, thus increasing the gastroesophageal angle, and this may promote bloat, says researcher, Dr. Glickman.
Put another way, dogs with vertical chests are more prone to GDV because the stomach has more room to turn around and stay flipped.
In a study done at Purdue University, the Great Dane was the #1 dog at risk for bloat with over 40% of dogs affected. ;And based on some of the research we are going talk about in a minute, the overall lifetime risk of developing GDV in the largest dog breeds, including the Great Dane, was 42% with a case fatality rate of 30%.
- Great Dane
- Basset Hound
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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.
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.
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 To Prevent Bloating
You can reduce the possibility that you will feel bloated by being careful about what you eat. Avoid foods that tend to make you bloated. Make sure you chew slowly and thoroughly to make digestion easier.;
Sitting up straight or taking a walk after eating can also help with digestion. These can reduce bloating by preventing your body from producing excess gas.
If youre not sure whats causing your bloating, talk to your doctor. They might suggest an elimination diet, in which you remove bloat-causing foods. These might include dairy products, certain grains, and/or certain sweeteners.
Your Nightcap Is To Blame
Alcohol is another common culprit when it comes to bloating. When you drink a glass of wine before bed, the alcohol is absorbed by the stomach and small intestine and can cause inflammation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
The next morning, this alcohol-induced inflammation may present itself as some unwanted abdominal swelling.
The fix: You don’t need to cut out your nightly glass of wine completely, but it’s definitely best to stick to one drink in the evening, Largeman-Roth says. Also, try to enjoy your beverage earlier in the night, to give your body ample time to digest it, and make sure to hydrate before and after.
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Coeliac Disease And Bloating
Coeliac disease;is a common digestive condition where your intestine cannot absorb gluten found in wheat, barley and rye.
If you have Coeliac disease, eating foods containing gluten can also trigger diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fatigue.
See your GP if you suspect you may have Coeliac disease.
There is no cure for Coeliac disease but, once the condition has been diagnosed, switching to a gluten-free diet should help.
Find out more about Coeliac disease.
Look At Supplements And Medications
Some supplements, such as iron, can cause constipation and other symptoms of indigestion. This can increase bloating. Potassium, on the other hand, may reduce bloating by helping to balance the bodys sodium levels .
Medications may also cause side effects that affect GI function or cause indigestion. If this happens, a doctor or pharmacist can suggest alternatives that are more gentle on the digestive tract.
Although it is not common, bloating and swelling of the abdomen can signify a severe medical condition. Liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease, heart failure, kidney problems, and some types of cancer can cause bloating.
Bloating that continues for days or weeks may indicate a health issue that needs medical attention. It is advisable to speak to a doctor about ongoing bloating that does not go away over time.
People whose bloating occurs alongside these symptoms should seek medical advice:
- appetite changes or trouble eating
- bright red blood in the stool
- black or dark maroon stools
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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.
What Happens During A Gallbladder Attack
Gallstones are crystal-like deposits that develop in your gallbladder. They can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. They can be hard, soft, smooth, or jagged. Most of the time, these gallstones are not harmful, and you may not even know you have them.
However, sometimes the stones move into the duct that carries bile to the liver, causing a gallbladder attack. The main symptom is abdominal pain, which can be accompanied by indigestion, nausea, or fever. The pain caused by the gallbladder trying to push the stone through usually happens within an hour of eating a large meal or in the middle of the night.
Stones can clog the bile duct, which leads to the small intestine, or the hepatic duct, which leads to the liver. When they obstruct the ducts, they can cause inflammation and even infections. Surgery is then needed, and the gall bladder is removed. These days, this is generally done by laparoscopic surgery through your belly button. It may be done with open surgery, depending on the specifics of your case.
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Bloating And Diet Culture
I cant write an article about bloating without addressing the diet culture related to bloating and having a flat stomach. There are many people who have normal bloating but feel it is a problem simply due to wanting a flat stomach.
Saying I feel bloated is the newer way to say I feel fat. While bloating can certainly be a serious concern, we cant ignore the diet culture implications of using bloating in this way.
There is way too much pressure about having a flat stomach. The amount of tips and tricks for getting rid of bloating strictly for the purpose of a flatter abdomen just demonstrates how ingrained diet culture is in society.
Firstly, having a flat stomach is not the reality for the vast majority of people. Women especially are likely to carry some fat on their abdomen . This is perfectly normal and completely acceptable. If you are in a place where you cannot accept this aspect of your body, it may be time to seek out some help to develop a better relationship with your body and/ or food.
Second, a flat stomach means absolutely nothing in terms of health and desiring this is a result of diet culture. As above, its not a realistic goal for most people who either have some fat on their abdomen and/ or experience some bloating/ distension as part of their normal digestion. The extremes people go through to get a flat stomach may be extremely harmful. Most are not sustainable for any length of time.
What Causes Gallstones
Gallstones are made mainly of bile and cholesterol. Usually, the bile acids in your gallbladder are strong enough to break down the cholesterol and keep it in liquid form. However, a diet high in fatty foods upset the balance and cause the liver to produce more cholesterol than the gall bladder can handle.
However, gallstones can also form in people who eat a diet low in fat. With little fatty food to digest, the gallbladder produces less bile, so the cholesterol has a chance to solidify. Other factors that reduce gallbladder activity include cirrhosis, hormone replacement therapy, birth control pills, and pregnancy. Diabetes, cholesterol drugs, sudden weight loss, and family history can also increase the risk of gallstones.
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