Bloat is any abnormal gas swelling, or increase in diameter of the abdominal area. As a symptom, the patient
feels a full and tight abdomen, which may cause abdominal pain and is sometimes accompanied by increased stomach
growling, or more seriously, the total lack of it.
The most common symptom associated with bloating is a sensation that the abdomen is full or distended.
Rarely, bloating may be painful or cause shortness of breath.
Pains that are due to bloating will feel sharp and cause the stomach to cramp. These pains may occur anywhere
in the body and can change locations quickly.They are so painful that they are sometimes mistaken for heart pains
when they develop on the upper left side of the chest. Pains on the right side are often confused with problems in the
appendix or the gallbladder.
One symptom of gas that is not normally associated with it is the hiccup. Hiccups are harmless and will diminish on
their own; they also help to release gas that is in the digestive tract before it moves down to the intestines and
causes bloating. Important but uncommon causes of abdominal bloating include ascites and tumors.
There are many causes of bloating, including: diet, irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance, reflux, and
Specific medical conditions like Crohn’s disease or bowel obstruction can also contribute to the amount of stomach
Common causes of abdominal bloating are:
Lactose intolerance, fructose intolerance and other food intolerances
Aerophagia (air swallowing, a nervous habit)
Irritable bowel syndrome
Partial bowel obstruction
Gastric dumping syndrome or rapid gastric emptying
Polycystic ovary syndrome and ovarian cysts
Alvarez’ syndrome, bloating of unknown or psychogenic origin without excess of gas in the digestive tract
Massive infestation with intestinal parasites (e.g., Ascaris lumbricoides)
Certain medications, such as phentermine
Occurs in some due to salivary hypersecretion and dehydration.
Postmortem bloating occurs in cadavers, due to the formation of gases by bacterial action and putrefaction of the internal tissues of the abdomen and the inside of the intestines.
Conditions that are related to bloating include constipation, lactose intolerance, and acid reflux disease. All of these conditions share the
same symptoms and can share the same causative agents. These causes include unhealthy diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, low amount of exercise, and overall health.
Each of these conditions can be experienced as a symptom of the others and is also a cause for each of them. In most cases where one of the conditions is present,
there is at least one if not two of the others. Treatment for each condition is performed using the same medications and recommended dietary changes like increased
fiber intake and reduced fat intake. If the conditions develop into disease such as gastroesophageal reflux disease or chronic constipation, additional medications
will be required. Bloating and flatulence are sometimes related to constipation, and treating the underlying condition may be helpful.
There are many over-the-counter (OTC) medications that can be used to treat bloating. Food enzymes can be found in some products that will help break
down the sugars found in grains, vegetables and dairy products. They can be taken before food is consumed or added to the food that causes the gas and bloating.
Another type of medicine is activated charcoal tablets which decrease the odor from gas. The most common treatment is antacids. These medications have no effect
on the gas that is presently in the intestines, but enable gas build-up to be belched away more easily, reducing the amount of bloating that develops. Another
treatment is Simethicone, an oral anti-foaming agent that helps the body to expel the gas more quickly. Also combinations of prokinetics, such as
domperidone + metoclopramide + diphenhydramine (the latter for the prevention of extrapyramidal reactions, especially acute dystonic reactions) + proton pump
inhibitors (PPIs), have dramatic effects on bloaters and belchers especially.
There are several things that can be done to relieve the pressure in the stomach. Taking a walk after eating a meal is a good way to nudge the contents of the
bowels along. Exercising releases hormones that work to encourage activity in the bowels. Foods like bubble gum or bubbly beverages also cause a build-up of air
that results in excessive gas and bloating, as does smoking. There are also certain types of vegetables and fruits that contain types of starches which are poorly
digested by people but well digested by bacteria.