Abdominal bloating occurs when your stomach fills with either gas or air. A bloated stomach will appear distended and very full. It may also be tender to touch and feel slightly hard. In some cases, the swelling can be tender and cause discomfort and pain too. 

Bloating can be the result of eating a meal that was too large or a reaction to eating food you have an intolerance to. It can also be associated with a serious health condition, so it should not be ignored.

Where Is Your Bloating?

Bloating can be the result of gas, stress, and indigestion. It can also be a symptom of serious health conditions

The bloating associated with food or indigestion will go away within a few hours, but longer-lasting bloating needs to be addressed. You can determine the affected organ by identifying where the bloat-associated pain is felt.

Upper left side: This is where your stomach, pancreas, and spleen are located.

Center left and middle: This is where your small intestines are located, which is where digestion occurs. Unabsorbed food travels to the large intestine through here.

Lower left side: This is your descending colon, which is where waste is headed for removal.

Upper middle: Your heart, liver, pancreas, and pyloric region of the stomach are all located here.

Lower middle: Your urinary tract, bladder, and anus make up this section.

Upper right side: This is where your liver, gallbladder, and part of the small intestine are located.

Lower right side: This is where part of your large intestine and appendix are located.

What Causes Bloating in the Stomach?

Bloating is a common symptom of several digestive disorders as well as other serious health conditions. Usually, when the bloating persists past a few days, there is a cause beyond indigestion that needs to be addressed. 

The top conditions most often associated with bloating include:

Acid reflux: Acid rising through the esophagus can cause irritation and indigestion, which also causes gas. Bloating and heartburn are common symptoms associated with acid reflux and GERD.

Celiac disease: Bloating is a common symptom of celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Gas is created along with a distended belly as the inflammation upsets the stomach lining and intestines 

Diverticulitis: The swelling of the diverticula in your intestines causes bloating and lower abdominal pain as well as abdominal swelling.

Dyspepsia: This is the medical term for indigestion, and when food is only partially digested, gas is one of the main by-products. Bloating, along with burping, will be common symptoms.

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Endometriosis: The inflammation of the uterine lining can also inflate the bowel and distort intestinal anatomy. As a result, you will feel bloated and likely experience painful bowel movements too.

Gallstones: When these hard masses collect in your gall bladder or travel and become lodged in a duct, they are very painful. They can cause swelling, which will inflate your abdominal area. 

Giardiasis: This is an intestinal infection caused by a parasite called giardia, typically found in unsanitary conditions and unsafe water. The infection causes mass intestinal swelling and bloating, and along with abdominal cramps, these are the main symptoms.

Irritable bowel syndrome: The bloating associated with IBS is worse when combined with constipation. Trapped gasses cause bowels to move slowly, which causes the bloating. A high-fiber diet can reduce constipation and IBS symptoms.

Inflammatory bowel diseases: Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are both inflammatory conditions affecting the gastrointestinal tract. Both are triggered and made worse by certain foods, which causes a flare-up and exaggerates symptoms like bloating.

Intestinal obstruction: When your bowels are obstructed, fecal matter, as well as natural gases, cannot escape. As a result, bloating is the number one symptom of obstruction. 

Lactose intolerance: When lactose is present, your body cannot properly break down the protein when you have an intolerance, and this causes inflammation and bloating.

Peritonitis: This is the inflammation of the lining of your abdomen, and when inflamed, swelling, and abdominal pain occur. Distention and bloating are common symptoms, along with tenderness to touch.

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PMS: Bloating is common before the start of a menstrual cycle, which is the result of excess estrogen production.

UTIs: These most commonly cause pain when urinating as well as lower abdominal pain. In the case of severe kidney infections, you will also experience bloating along with vomiting.

Viral gastroenteritis: Caused by a viral infection, the inflammation of your digestive tract causes a loss of appetite, diarrhea, and bloating or stomach rumbling.

Diagnosing Bloating

Your doctor will need a medical history, a physical exam, and details as to when the bloating started and where the pain is located. They may also run blood tests to rule out infections and urine tests to check for UTIs. 

A stool analysis can also help identify if there is any infection along your digestive tract. Imaging can be done as a last resort to evaluate if there are any structural abnormalities causing obstructions and bloating. 

How to Get Rid of Bloating

Abdominal bloating can be treated, but this depends on the underlying cause. Infections will be treated with antibiotics, and any bowel obstructions will be treated with bowel rest by reducing what you eat. 

If the bloating is the result of slow bowel movements, your doctor can prescribe medications that encourage movement. You can also try over-the-counter pain medications, but this will only reduce the pain you feel and not the bloating.

Preventing bloating comes down to avoiding foods known to cause this symptom. High-fat foods along with sugary, spicy, and processed or fried foods are the top culprits for causing a bloated belly. 

You can also make some lifestyle changes such as drinking plenty of water and eating more fiber to reduce constipation, which causes gas buildup. You should also get regular exercise as well as eat small meals more often throughout the day instead of 2 or 3 large ones. 

a table full of food

Natural Treatment for Bloating

There are natural ways to treat bloating, along with dietary changes and getting more exercise. Bloating can be a symptom of an underlying digestive issue and can be uncomfortable. The following ingredients can improve digestive health and reduce the troubles of bloating.

CARE4U: CARE4U supplies your body with human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs). These beneficial sugars are found naturally in human breast milk and kick start healthy digestion in infants. These same sugars can benefit adult digestive tracts as they reduce the risk of leaky gut. Bloating is one of the most common symptoms of leaky gut.
Milk thistle extract: Milk thistle extract is proven to support liver health and protect it from disease. The liver is responsible for detoxifying your body, which exposes it to harmful pathogens and toxins all day. Poor liver health can disrupt digestion, as it also produces digestive bile and enzymes that metabolize fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. An unhealthy liver causes bloating, among other digestive issues. This can be remedied by preventing liver damage with milk thistle extract.

In addition to these ingredients, you can prevent bloating by ensuring your food is properly digested. Undigested food is one of the top causes of bloating in the gut. Digestive enzymes are responsible for breaking down the food you eat. Production of digestive enzymes decreases with age, so supplements become useful in promoting digestive health. 

Peptidase: Peptidase breaks down proteins, and too many undigested proteins cause indigestion and bloating.
Lipase: Lipase breaks down fats, and without this, food intolerances and bloating are likely to develop.
Cellulase: This enzyme is responsible for triggering messages to the brain that are responsible for emptying the stomach. Without this, these signals are interrupted, and the stomach will not empty, which will cause bloating.

When to See Your Doctor

Sometimes bloating can be serious if it’s the result of an underlying condition, so if you notice any of these symptoms along with the bloating, you need to speak with your doctor immediately.

♦ Excessive vomiting
♦ Blood in your stool or vomit
♦ Loss of consciousness
♦ Uncontrolled diarrhea
♦ No bowel movements for a few days

Your doctor needs to know all the symptoms and the onset of the bloating to accurately diagnose the cause. Once identified, treatment to address the underlying cause can be provided, and the bloating and discomfort will be reduced as a result.