Your stomach is tight, and your pants feel like they’ve shrunk at least a size. Yep, you’re bloated. And though you may blame that large piece of cheesecake you inhaled at lunch, there can be many reasons why people experience that rumbling, uncomfortable feeling in their stomachs.
Find out what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to bloating and how you can prevent it with these helpful tips.
What Causes Bloating?
Between 10-25% of otherwise healthy people experience some form of bloating and it can range from mild to severe in terms of pain. Not surprisingly, the most common cause of bloating is excess intestinal gas. Often people experience gas due to indigestion and eating too fast, but there can be other causes of bloating including:
- Small intestinal bacteria overgrowth
- Bowel obstruction
- Recent weight gain
- Carbohydrate malabsorption
- Gastrointestinal conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Diverticulosis and Crohn’s disease
Food intolerance, where the body has difficulty digesting a particular food, can be another major cause of bloating. Some common foods that people are sensitive to include:
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Sugar alcohols (often used in zero calorie sugar alternatives)
Hormones can also cause bloating. Women especially may find that they have to deal with increased bloating and gas around their menstrual cycle since both estrogen and progesterone interact with your digestive system.
How to Prevent Bloating
If you notice an increase in bloating after eating a particular food, consult a doctor or an allergist about doing a food allergy test. This test will determine if your body has issues digesting a particular food and if so, you’ll want to do your best to avoid that food in order to stop excess gas and bloating.
For occasional bloating and gas, your doctor may recommend some over the counter drugs you can find at your local pharmacy such as Pepto-Bismol, Beano and Gas-X. Your doctor may also prescribe a strong probiotic or suggest you buy one over the counter. Probiotics help balance the bacteria in your gut and can lead to overall better digestion which can help reduce gas.
Natural Remedies for Bloating
If your bloating is fairly mild and infrequent, you may try some more natural remedies to help ease the tightness in your tummy. Some natural treatments include:
- Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day
- Make sure to chew food slowly and thoroughly
- Avoid wearing tight clothes around your midsection
- Avoid spicy, fried or fatty foods and carbonated drinks
- Increase your physical activity and consider taking a walk after eating to aid your digestion
- Drink more water
- Eat a healthy, whole foods diet
- Take magnesium
When to Talk to Your Doctor
If you experience any of the following symptoms make sure to consult your doctor right away:
- Bloating gets progressively worse or lasts more than a week
- You have persistent pain
- You experience symptoms like vomiting, blood in stool or fever
Conditions like certain gastrointestinal diseases, cancer and pancreatic insufficiency can also cause bloating, so don’t hesitate to consult your doctor if you are experiencing anything out of the ordinary.
Gastroenterology Care at University Health
Our gastroenterology team is here to help with any digestive disorders. For more information, contact us today at 210-358-9887.