What could bloating meanBloating (feeling gassy in everyday vernacular) is a highly prevalent problem and the most bothersome symptom of the various digestive tract disorders.  Though not life-threatening, bloating can be an extremely bothersome symptom. Here are 10 different causes for bloating along with tips to mitigate each different cause: 

1. High-fibre diets

Oatmeal, breads, bran flakes, cooked barley, spaghetti (even whole wheat), lentils, beans, peas, apples and pears with skin, banana, and scores of other foods are essential for good health and to avoid many gastrointestinal problems,  but too much of these can make your stomach bloat. Read about the food combos you should avoid to prevent bloating

Reason: Fibre cannot be digested in the human intestine. Bloating from fibre rich foods occurs because the bacteria inside the colon digest the fibre to a certain extent. Gas is produced as a by-product of this digestion.

Solution: Fibre is important, so you shouldn’t avoid eating fibre. Just take note if your stomach bloats after you’ve had too much of fibre for your breakfast or other meals. Lower the amount of fibre in your diet in that case. Start from a very low fibre intake for some time and gradually increase the intake to a level where it just starts to bloat. Now you know the trigger level for bloating. Problem solved!

2. Sugary foods

Sugary foods such as pastry, cookies, fruit juices, sweetened soda, sugary desserts, too, can cause bloating. Avoiding sugary foods is also very important if you want to keep your sking looking supple and healthy. Read about why sugary foods are bad for your skin

Reason: The reason for bloating is the same as in cases of high-fibre diets but this time the bacteria in the intestines (and not colon) digest the sugar and produces gas.

Solution: Try the same experiment as in high-fibre diet if you feel the bloating after consuming sugary foods.

3. Constipation

If you have constipation, you might have noticed that your stomach bloats and as the day progresses you get a ‘tight’ belly with abdominal pain. Read about the other reasons for constipation

Reason: The gas formed as a by-product of digestion gets trapped behind slow moving stool and keeps building up depending on the severity of the constipation, and you feel the bloating. 

Solution: Change your eating habits and diet, but not drastically. Gradually include more of insoluble fibres such as fruits and vegetables and nuts in your diet. Drink lots of water. Read about ten home remedies to beat constipation.

4. Smoking

Bloating is quite common amongst smokers. Smoking is especially bad for women, here is why

Reason: This is because smokers tend to inhale a lot more air than non-smokers which can lead to the build-up of gas either in the oesophagus, the stomach or the colon.

Solution: Control the addiction or just kick the butt; bloating won’t trouble you as much then. Want to quit? Here are some natural remedies to quit smoking.

5. Acid reflux

If you feel bloated in the upper belly especially after meals, feel nauseous after a meal, or burp excessively within an hour of the meal, you may be having a condition called dyspepsia or acid reflux or simply, indigestion.  Read about acidity and why you might have it. 

Reason: When the food, stomach acid, and other digestive juices backflow into the oesophagus, it is called acid reflux. The backflow occurs when the valve between the stomach and the lower end of the oesophagus does not close tightly enough or relaxes at the wrong times. Over eating may also cause acid reflux. Other reasons for reflux are smoking, drinking, and obesity, being over 35 years of age and being pregnant.

Solution: Solution for mild dyspepsia can be in taking carbonated drinks in this case since fizzy drinks can relieve the pressure in your belly by inducing belching. Or better still, take some antacids. Severe dyspepsia, however, will require you to consult your doctor. Here are 10 home remedies for acidity that really work!

Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of acidity.

6. Splenic-flexure syndrome

When the air (gas) gets trapped inside the bends in the colon situated next to the spleen, it is called the splenic-flexure syndrome. It is a painful condition and the pain occurs in the upper left side of the abdomen and can sometimes be misconstrued as a heart attack. Abdominal bloating is the most common symptom of this disorder.

Solution: The best way to deal with this disorder is to avoid foods that cause gas. Broccoli, cabbage, processed foods, prunes, peas and apples are examples of gas causing foods. Read about some expert tips to avoid ‘gas’ problems.

7. Irritable Bowel Syndrome 

Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is when you have bloating accompanied by abdominal pain and cramping and change in bowel movement but with normal bowel structure. Find out what IBS really is.

Probable cause: Infection in the intestine or even stress can be a trigger for IBS. 

Solution: Avoiding large meals and avoiding foods that contain caffeine or colas that stimulate the intestines can improve the condition (read about why colas are worse for you than smoking). Although it is a common intestinal problem, it is best to consult a gastroenterologist (bowel specialist) if the change in your bowel habits persist. The specialist may ask you to get some tests done to rule out Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, coeliac disease and colon cancer

8. Coeliac disease

Coeliac disease, commonly prevalent in western countries and Africa, is generally considered to be caused by allergy to gluten present in wheat and related grains. 

Probable cause: Medical fraternity now believes that it is actually a multi-system disorder which is highly variable in its clinical expression, may occur at any age, and may present with a variety of manifestations and is common in India as well.

For example, in an article published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, B S Ramakrishna suggests that the disorder can have gastrointestinal manifestations that include diarrhoea, weight loss, stunting, abdominal pain, bloating and distension, anorexia, vomiting and constipation; or it may not be gastrointestinal related at all. It could be iron deficiency anaemia, osteoporosis, vitamin deficiencies, or fatigue. Celiac disease can also be associated with infertility in women, type 1 diabetes, mouth ulcers, thyroiditis, depression, and even epilepsy. Read about natural remedies to relieve mouth ulcers.

Solution: Given these facts, Indian researchers recommend changing back to growing / consuming older diploid varieties of wheat and other cereals that are considered to be safe.

9. Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can occur throughout the gastrointestinal tract but more commonly affects the intestines.  Common symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and weight loss, but patients with Crohn’s disease also can develop symptoms such as worsening of diarrhoea, bloating (find out about the other reasons for blaoting), fatigue, fever, nausea and vomiting, and anaemia. Read why anaemia is more than just a blood disorder.

Probable complications: A number of complications can develop from Crohn’s disease – narrowing of colon causing obstruction, perforation or abscesses in the colon, colon cancer, sepsis (infection of the blood), osteoporosis, gallstones, liver damage, and blood clots, to name a few.

Solution: Do not ignore the symptoms and get proper medical treatment for the condition. 

10. Diverticulosis

Diverticulosis is the formation of abnormal pouches in the bowel wall. These pouches can occur throughout the gut, but they most commonly occur in the colon. Although they don’t cause symptoms, they co-exist with IBS and the symptoms you get are those of IBS. Diverticulosis, as such is not a serious disorder but if they start to bleed or perforate, they become a serious illness.

Unexplained bloating

Sometimes the cause of bloating may not have a simple explanation. One such disorder is a psychosomatic illness called Alvarez’s syndrome in which there’s abdominal bloating without any excess gas in the digestive tract.

If bloating persists, even though you have tried elimination diets and other methods of dealing with bloating, talk to your doctor. Bloating may be a symptom of a more serious disorder which may not

Reference:

Coeliac disease - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3100145/

Crohn’s disease - http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/crohns-disease

Diverticulosis - http://www.iffgd.org/site/gi-disorders/other/diverticulosis/difference

Unexplained bloating - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3388350/#__ffn_sectitle

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  • David Hughes

    Acid reflux and fizzy drinks are two mortal enemies, I know since I have GERD, the stomach acid the drink will cause/induce is far worse than the gas it may relieve.