Feeling bloated? You are not alone. Abdominal bloating and flatulence are the most common digestive complaints doctors hear from patients. Now there are new culprits for bloating: COVID-19 and long-term COVID.
Bloating can bother some people because of its appearance. They may think that a protruding belly makes them look “pregnant”. Others are frustrated by a bloated stomach that sticks out even after losing weight.
But for some people, it’s more of a nuisance than an appearance. Bloating is not the same for everyone, and symptoms can vary. Charlotte Smith, MD, an emergency physician at Penn Medical Center in Philadelphia, says patients often describe abdominal distention, bloating, and acid reflux symptoms.
If you’re ready to get rid of belly bloat, here’s what you need to know.
[ SEE: Foods that are good for stomach aches. ]
What is flatulence?
The terms bloating and abdominal distension are often used interchangeably. Technically, bloating is a temporary feeling of fullness, usually caused by intestinal gas, while abdominal distension refers to a noticeable and measurable increase in the size of the stomach. Gas, cramping, and cramping may or may not be relieved.
Many people experience heartburn, constipation, and abdominal pain. Bloating can persist for several hours after eating. Food allergies, lactose intolerance, and other digestive disorders can cause bloating.
Simply put, when you’re bloated, you know it. However, you and your doctor or dietitian need to do some detective work to find the cause.
What causes bloating?
Dr. Hardeep Singh, a gastroenterologist at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange, California, says bloating can be caused by a number of factors. Dietary issues are the most common, says Singh, with food intolerances leading the way. Food intolerances, or food sensitivities, mean that your digestive system can’t break down certain foods, which can lead to excess gas and bloating. “Typical intolerances include dairy or gluten, but people have intolerances to almost anything,” she says.
Aside from specific nutritional causes, eating too fast, chewing gum and using straws are some of the most common nutrition-related causes, says Cassie Vanderwall, a registered dietitian in the clinical nutrition department at UW Health in Wisconsin.
Stomach bloating worsens the normal function of the stomach – expansion. The stomach muscle is about the size of a fist at rest, but the muscle wall is designed to expand slightly to accommodate large amounts of food. It’s natural to feel full for a while after lunch or dinner until the stomach has finished digesting and breaking down the food with the help of digestive enzymes. So, one of the first steps to get rid of bloating is to eat smaller portions that don’t distend your stomach too much at once.
Bloating and belching are also closely related to bloating. Burping and belching are caused by swallowed air that accumulates in the stomach. Rectal gas, or flatulence, is usually swallowed air and gas caused by bacteria that form around undigested carbohydrates in the colon.
Constipation can also cause bloating. If you are worried about a constipated stomach, you have a bad stomach ache throughout the day, and if you relieve yourself in the stool, it can cause constipation. In constipation, normal intestinal gas accumulates and accumulates behind slow-moving stools.
Of course, a stomach that isn’t perfectly flat can be completely normal. Vanderwall notes that sometimes patients on a weight-loss program who aren’t developing the abs they want will complain of bloating, which isn’t really the problem, just the size of the stomach.