Why do I feel bloated? What really causes bloating?


We have all been through the phase of feeling fat and heavy especially around the stomach. So much so that the discomfort makes us feel like a Python who has swallowed an entire gazelle. The biological definition of bloated is swelling and it usually refers to the bloating of the abdomen or distended belly. Bloating can also be accompanied by burping, flatulence, gas formation, abdominal discomfort, and feeling of fullness.  It is also referred to as a bloated belly at times.

What causes this stomach or abdominal bloating?

There can be many reasons for feeling bloating most of which are harmless and can be treated easily by over the counter medicines or the simple the home remedies but continuous abdominal bloating can be a sign and symptom of something more serious.

So what is the reason of feeling bloated all the time?

  1. Gas – intestinal gas is one of the most common causes of feeling bloated. The main culprits could be the food that you have eaten and also how they have been eaten. Some of the other causes of gas formation are eating too much, eating too fast,  consuming a lot of fatty foods and food products like beans, vegetables, and other high fibrous foods, lactose intolerance, etc.
  2. Suffering from food intolerance gluten intolerance or celiac disease can also lead to bloating.  Sometimes more severe intestinal disorders like the irritable bowel syndrome for IBS and inflammatory bowel disease or IBD like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can also be one of the reasons for gas formation.
  3. Infection- stomach infections can cause gas formation and the symptoms also include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach ache. Stomach infections are most commonly caused by E coli for Helicobacter pylori.  Viruses like the notovirus and rotavirus are also responsible for stomach infection. Usually, stomach infection goes on its own after a few days. However, long term stomach infection can lead to dehydration and the doctor must be consulted immediately if it is accompanied by fever bloody stool and severe vomiting.
  4. Indigestion also called dyspepsia is a major cause of discomfort or pain in the stomach leading to bloating. Indigestion can be caused by eating too much food, excessive intake of alcohol and medicines that irritate the lining of the stomach like Ibuprofen, etc.
  5. Fluid retention – consuming salty foods and having food intolerances or changes in hormone levels can cause a person’s body to retain more fluid then it would normally do. Bloating is a problem which is seen in women just before the period or early pregnancy. Don’t ignore chronic bloating due to fluid retention which could indicate serious diseases like diabetes or kidney failure.
  6. Gastroparesis- this is a disorder which causes hampering of the normal process of stomach emptying.  How does this happen? The stomach muscles stop working properly that causes the food to pass more slowly through the stomach and intestine. Some of the common symptoms of gastroparesis are constipation, bloating, loss of appetite, heartburn, pain, and discomfort. Other conditions like diabetes or hypothyroidism can also cause gastroparesis leading to bloating.
  7. Few gynecological issues can also cause bloating accompanied by stomach pain. One of them is endometriosis which can cause both cramping and bloating during the periods. Why does this happen? This happens when the lining of the uterus gets attached to the stomach or the intestine.
  8. Constipation is one of the common causes of bloating and it can be caused due to bowel disorders, medication, dehydration, lack of fiber in the diet, pregnancy, food intolerance, magnesium deficiency, etc.
  9. Bloating can also be caused due to the presence of gallstones or any gallbladder disease in the person leading to extreme abdominal pain that looks like bloating. Some other cancers like that of the stomach and intestine may also lead to bloating and abdominal discomfort.  Ascites buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity over a period of time and it is caused due to liver disease and it is yet another condition that can lead to bloating.
  10. Excessive intake of carbohydrates in the form of white bread, candies, pastry, and soft drinks can also lead to water retention making you feel bloated.

Some of the home remedies that can be tried to prevent or reduce bloating are drinking water ok carbonated water, consuming peppermint; applying heat pad to the stomach also helps. Antacids can be taken to relieve bloating and consuming a laxative to relieve constipation also helps. If the bloating is accompanied by some other symptoms like fever, bloody stools intense pain, rapid swelling of the abdomen or any other part of the body or vomiting , it is better to see a doctor to rule out anything serious.

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