How often have you heard someone mention feeling bloated, or heard bloating mentioned as a side effect or symptom?
Bloating is a condition that occurs when a person’s gastrointestinal tract is filled with gas or air. Bloating often makes your stomach feel as though it’s full, swollen, or tight, and it might actually cause your stomach to look bigger.
Common symptoms that may be attributed to bloating include:
Bloating can be caused by several factors, with one of the simpler causes being swallowing air. According to Healthline, gas can collect in the digestive tract when food that has not been properly digested gets broken down or when air is swallowed. Air is swallowed during eating or drinking, but certain factors can cause some people to swallow more air than others. This can be especially true for those who are prone to eating or drinking too fast, chewing gum, smoking, or wearing loose dentures.
Other factors that cause bloating include:
There are also different types of medical conditions that can cause bloating, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, hormonal fluctuations, medications, eating disorders, and other mental health factors like depression, stress, and anxiety.
There are several different methods that can help manage or control bloating and most fall under the category of lifestyle changes.
In order to avoid swallowing too much air, you may try things like:
In some cases, lifestyle changes alone may not be enough to help prevent bloating, and your doctor may want to recommend medical treatment and/or medications. Medications like antibiotics, antidepressants, and antispasmodics have been used to help treat bloating in certain conditions.
If bloating is more severe, it may be accompanied by more serious symptoms like:
If bloating is severe and is accompanied by these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor, as they could be potentially linked to serious medical problems like colon cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreas problems or Pancreatic cancer, uterine cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, liver disease, bowel or bladder blockage, or tumors.
Read about collagen, hysterectomy, varicose veins, and other health and medical terminology in our Women’s Health Glossary of Terms.
Cait Kegley is a freelance writer in Chicago and a graduate of Columbia College.
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