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Bloated Stomach: Causes, Symptoms and When to Consult a Doctor | health news


A bloated stomach is not only uncomfortable but can significantly affect one’s daily life and overall well-being. It is a common ailment, often accompanied by feelings of fullness, tightness and sometimes pain. While occasional bloating can be attributed to some dietary indiscretions or lifestyle factors, persistent or severe bloating may indicate an underlying health problem that needs attention. In this comprehensive guide, Dr. Sangeeta Tiwari, Clinical Nutritionist at Artemis Light, NFC, New Delhi, explores the complications, causes, symptoms and practical strategies for relieving bloating and discomfort and improving digestive health.

Bloated Stomach: Understanding the Causes

A bloated stomach can be caused by numerous factors, from dietary choices to medical conditions. Some common reasons include:

Bad eating habits: Eating large meals or foods high in fat, fiber, or artificial sweeteners can delay digestion and increase bloating by producing gas. Eating in a hurry, chewing gum, or consuming carbonated drinks causes excess air to enter the digestive tract, which contributes to abdominal discomfort and restlessness. These habits disrupt the delicate balance of the gastrointestinal system, leading to symptoms of bloating. Opting for small, balanced meals, mindful eating habits, and choosing beverages without carbonation can help relieve bloating and promote digestive health.

Food Intolerance: People with lactose intolerance, gluten sensitivity, or other food intolerances may experience bloating due to the body’s inability to properly digest certain substances. For those with lactose intolerance, eating trigger foods such as dairy products or gluten-containing grains for gluten sensitivity can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, including bloating. Identifying and avoiding these trigger foods is crucial for promoting bloating control, digestive comfort, and overall wellness in people with food intolerances.

Digestive Diseases: Conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can disrupt digestive function, leading to bloating. In IBS, abdominal pain and altered bowel habits are accompanied by bloating. In IBD, inflammation of the digestive tract causes bloating with diarrhea or constipation. GERD, characterized by acid reflux, can also contribute to bloating and discomfort.

Fluid Retention: Hormonal fluctuations, such as those experienced during menstruation or pregnancy, can cause fluid retention and bloating. Excessive sodium intake can disrupt the body’s fluid balance, leading to bloating. Additionally, some medications, such as corticosteroids or hormone-based contraceptives, can contribute to fluid retention and swelling as side effects. Managing sodium intake and consulting a health care professional can help alleviate bloating associated with these factors.

Stress: Psychological stress triggers the release of stress hormones, which can disrupt the gut-brain axis and lead to bloating. Stress alters gut motility and increases susceptibility to gastrointestinal discomfort. This can exacerbate bloating symptoms, as the gut and brain communicate bi-directionally. Practicing stress-management techniques such as mindfulness, meditation and deep breathing can help reduce bloating by calming the nervous system and reducing stress-induced gut disturbances.

Recognizing symptoms

Bloating symptoms vary from person to person and may include:

Flatulence: The abdomen appears visibly swollen or enlarged.

Gas and bloating: Excessive gas production can lead to flatulence, or flatulence, which contributes to bloating.

Discomfort or pain: Bloating may occur with discomfort, cramping or sharp pain in the abdominal area.

Changes in bowel habits: Some people may experience changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation, along with bloating.

Practical strategies for relief: Nutritionists advocate a holistic approach to managing a bloated stomach, emphasizing the following strategies:

Eat Mindfully: Adopting mindful eating habits such as chewing food well, eating slowly, and paying attention to hunger and fullness cues can aid digestion and reduce bloating.

Balanced diet: Prioritize a balanced diet rich in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats and minimize processed foods, sugary snacks and carbonated drinks.

Hydration: Adequate hydration is essential for optimal digestion. Aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day, while limiting sugary or caffeinated drinks that can increase bloating.

Identify trigger foods: Keep a food diary to identify potential trigger foods that exacerbate bloating symptoms. Common culprits include dairy products, grains containing gluten, cruciferous vegetables and legumes.

Cope with stress: Practice stress reduction techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga or yoga to relieve gastrointestinal distress associated with stress.

Probiotics and digestive enzymes: Consider including probiotic-rich foods or supplements and digestive enzymes to support gut health and promote digestion.

Seek professional guidance: If bloating persists or is accompanied by severe symptoms, consult a health care professional or registered dietitian for individual evaluation and management.

When to seek medical attention

Although occasional swelling is often benign, persistent or severe swelling may warrant medical evaluation, especially if accompanied by worrisome symptoms such as:

– Unintentional weight loss

– Blood in the stool

– Persistent abdominal pain

– Changes in bowel habits

Fatigue or weakness

Dr. Sangeeta Tiwari claims that the above symptoms may indicate underlying gastrointestinal disorders or other medical conditions that require prompt intervention. She adds, “Understanding the complications of bloating empowers individuals to take proactive steps to manage symptoms and promote digestive health. By mindful eating habits, maintaining a balanced diet, managing stress, and seeking professional guidance when needed, individuals can alleviate discomfort. can and optimize gastrointestinal wellness. For personalized dietary recommendations and comprehensive digestive health support, consult a registered dietitian or health care provider. Together, we can navigate the complications of bloating and begin the journey toward improved digestive health and overall wellness. “

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