The Pain & Discomfort of a Bloated Stomach
Surprisingly common and affecting some 30% of people, a bloated stomach can be painful and cause a lot of discomfort. You get that uncomfortable feeling of tightness or fullness in the stomach which is a build up of gas or too much fluid retention.
Occasional bloated stomach
There are a number of different reasons for a bloated stomach but a once off affliction can be when you overeat, when you consume too much of certain foods like beans, cabbage or cauliflower, when you enjoy fatty or spicy foods, when you swallow loads of air by chewing gum and, of course, when you really suffer from stress or anxiety. Be sure to check out our additional resources on how to get rid of your bloating feeling naturally.
Repetitive bloated stomach
- Top of the list is irritable bowel syndrome or IBS which as the name suggests is when something you are adding to your gut is causing irritation. We now know how important gut health is. IBS is a common problem particularly in women when the intestines either squeeze too hard or not hard enough. Our food then moves at an irregular pace through the intestines. Symptoms are bloating, gas and mucus in the stool; constipation or diarrhea; a phantom urge to have a bowel movement; and painful discomfort and cramping in the abdomen. Although this condition is usually triggered by certain foods, it can be worse when stress is added to the equation. Along with finding ways to handle any stress, you need to come up with what foods are triggering an outbreak. Gluten, sugar and dairy seem to be high on the list so try eliminating these as your first plan of action. There is no cure for the condition but you can definitely manage the symptoms. Probiotics are another suggestion – go on a course of reputable probiotics for at least a month to improve your gut health and then continue with a lower dose plus a diet that is helpful for your gut health. Once you develop IBS, it will probably recur throughout your life so you need to get to the bottom of what food is aggravating the problem in the first place and that is not always easy.
- Celiac disease is the extreme form of gluten intolerance. If you have been tested and found to have this condition, it becomes vital that you remove all gluten from your diet. It can seem very daunting but as there is no cure, this is the only way to effectively manage this condition. There is good news and that is, once gluten is removed, inflammation in your small intestine will begin to subside (taking just a few weeks) with an improvement noticeable in just a matter of days. At the same time, take a generous quality multivitamin and mineral supplement to counteract any nutritional deficiencies. While you may have been eating a healthy diet, the damage caused to your intestines will have prevented you from absorbing the nutrients.
- Suffering from gas or flatulence could be another reason. While it is perfectly normal to experience flatulence (up to 15 times a day), if it is bothering you, you can take steps to reduce it by cutting down on foods that are high in non-absorbable carbs such as beans and pulses, broccoli, cabbage, prunes and apples, and foods containing the sugar substitute sorbitol. These all tend to be digested very slowly and can release small amounts of sulphur gas while they pass through the gut. Always remember to chew well as without chewing, food is more likely to pass into the gut partially broken down and there’s a higher chance it will ferment and produce gas.
- Hormonal fluctuations such as in estrogen and progesterone hormone levels during menstruation, pregnancy or menopause can also wreak havoc on the digestive system, resulting in excessive bloating. In addition erratic levels of estrogen during peri-menopause can cause water retention, which leads to bloating. Estrogen can also affect the production of bile - that substance that aids in digestion. When estrogen levels decrease, so does bile production causing stools in the small intestine to become dry and hard and of course, constipation and bloating. A bowel movement less than 3 times a week is a good indication that your digestive system is not working properly. Exercise will help improve gut motility (just walking for 30 minutes a day can make all difference) along with drinking plenty of water and eating lots of fresh vegetables.
- Ovarian cancer is the final reason to check out. Unfortunately, the symptoms of ovarian cancer are not clear cut which is why it is often diagnosed later rather than earlier. Key symptoms to be aware of are persistent bloating and pain (rather than increasing and decreasing), an increased abdominal size, difficulty eating plus urinary symptoms. It is always best to be examined earlier on when the cancer is easier to treat.
An anti-bloating beverage especially for the stomach
We have written about the help an anti-bloating beverage can give you if you suffer from a bloated stomach.
Find out more here and do get to the root of what is causing your particular condition so that you know what you have to do as early as possible.
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Wang TJ, et al. (2015). The effect of abdominal massage in reducing malignant ascites symptoms.
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