Bloated abdomen – causes of bloating and treatment

22 October 2023
A woman suffering from abdominal bloating. En Source: VistaCreate

Flatulence is a common ailment that can affect almost anyone. This problem is often underestimated. However, if flatulence occurs very often and causes severe discomfort, it is worth finding out the cause, as well as making sure it is not related to a digestive disorder or other illness.

What is flatulence? Symptoms and characteristics

Flatulence is usually referred to when a large amount of gas accumulates in the intestines. These gases are produced by the natural processes of digestion. Flatulence is also promoted by accidentally swallowing air (for example, when eating or speaking).

The symptom of flatulence is usually an enlarged abdominal circumference and a feeling as if it is filled with enormous amounts of air. It is not without reason that many people then use the term ‘belly like a balloon’. Abdominal bloating alone is not the only symptom. Often there is also discomfort and even mild pain from the bloated abdomen and intestines. Sometimes bloating is also accompanied by a feeling and sounds of overflowing and loud burping, which, however, is not due to hunger.

The above symptoms are usually moderate – they are annoying, but they increase gradually and disappear after some time. It is, however, worrying when bloating and pain suddenly appear and are very intense. Such symptoms may indicate an obstruction of the digestive tract or an incarcerated hernia and require urgent medical consultation.

A bloated abdomen – causes of flatulence

Many different factors contribute to the formation of flatulence. The most common causes are:

  • Excessive intestinal gas production – can be caused by a hard to digest diet.
  • Swallowing large amounts of air – for example when speaking.
  • Status post abdominal surgery.
  • Digestive disorders – for example, intestinal obstruction or irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Diseases of the liver, pancreas, but also some gynaecological conditions. Presence of tumours in the abdominal cavity or lower abdomen.

An occasional bloated abdomen does not usually mean that something worrying is going on. However, if bloating accompanies you frequently, consult a gastrologist. Gastrointestinal and possibly proctological examinations may be necessary. Flatulence can even be caused by issues such as food allergies and intolerances or dietary errors. The basis for eliminating these complaints is therefore to determine the cause.

Abdominal bloating – treatment

The treatment of bloating depends on the cause, so getting a diagnosis is crucial. Treatment of bloating and digestive problems is provided by a gastrointestinal specialist, but sometimes an allergist, proctologist or other specialist must also be consulted.

How is abdominal bloating diagnosed?

The basis is a conversation between the doctor and the patient, and often several tests are performed:

  • Abdominal ultrasound – allows verification of possible abdominal abnormalities.
  • Gastroscopy – through this examination, the condition of the upper gastrointestinal tract can be verified.
  • Colonoscopy – allows to verify the condition of the intestines and diagnose possible diseases of the lower digestive tract.
  • Allergy tests – mainly for food allergens. Occasionally, a food intolerance test is also performed (mainly for lactose and gluten intolerance).
  • General examinations from blood and urine as well as a faecal examination.

Treatment of flatulence

It can be causal as well as purely symptomatic if the bloating is only occasional. What can medicine offer for bloating?

  • Causal treatment – is directed at the cause of the bloating (for example, a hernia, tumour or other condition). If bloating is caused by other conditions, treating or controlling these conditions may be sufficient.
  • Symptomatic treatment – can be implemented instead of or in addition to causal treatment. It involves dietary changes as well as the use of bloating remedies to reduce complaints of this type.

Whether you only suffer from bloating after eating or you experience it much more often, consult your doctor. It may be that making a few changes to your diet or implementing treatment for another condition that affects you will be enough to make you forget what a bloated abdomen looks like.

Prevention of flatulence

Minimising the risk of frequent flatulence is influenced by a variety of factors, most notably:

  • A lightly digestible diet.
  • Physical activity and weight management.
  • Avoiding fizzy drinks.
  • Performing general check-ups, as well as treating any medical conditions you have that could affect the occurrence of bloating.

Karol Popko

Karol Popko is an experienced author whose pen has been shining in the lifestyle world for many years. With his copywriting practice and insight into trends, he not only shares practical tips, but also opens up a deeper understanding of these topics to his readers. According to Karol, beauty can be found everywhere, and life is worth celebrating with passion and style.


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