Abdominal bloating is commonly reported by men and women of all ages. Bloating occurs in nearly all patients with irritable bowel syndrome, and it also occurs in patients with other functional and organic disorders.
Bloating is frequently disturbing to patients and frustrating to clinicians, as effective treatments are limited and are not universally successful. Although the terms bloating and abdominal distention are often used interchangeably, these symptoms likely involve different pathophysiologic processes, both of which are still not completely understood.
In a widely cited survey of the US population, 31% of respondents met Rome -1, criteria for functional bloating.
Other studies have shown that over 90% of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have symptoms of bloating.
Although no treatment is universally effective for bloating, several new therapies have become available during the past half-decade, which makes this review on the pathophysiology, evaluation, and treatment of bloating appropriate and topical.
“Bloating is a condition in which, a person feels gas in the stomach”
Although this term is usually used interchangeably with abdominal distension, these symptoms probably have different pathophysiological processes, which are not fully understood.
What is bloating
Bloating is distention (protrusion) of the abdomen, often accompanied by an uncomfortable feeling of fullness or tightness. Although it can cause your stomach to appear larger than normal and your clothing to feel tight around your waist, bloating is not caused by excess abdominal fat. Most often it occurs after eating a large meal, but also is associated with gluten intolerance, the build-up of digestive gasses, or, if you menstruate, the accumulation of fluid during your period. Effectively preventing or relieving belly bloat depends on what causes it. It often can be prevented by measures such as changing eating habits or taking medication to prevent or relieve gas.
Symptoms of bloating
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. They are so painful that they are sometimes mistaken for heart pains when they develop on the upper left side of the chest.
4.Pains on the right side are often confused with problems in the appendix or the gallbladder.
5. 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.
6. Your stomach will appear to “stick out” and look rounded and the skin of your abdominal region may feel stretched and taut.
7. Belly bloating can even interfere with how your clothing fits around the waist, sometimes to the extent you want to loosen your belt, unbutton the top button on your pants, or change into sweats.
8. Depending on the cause, bloating may be accompanied by discomfort, stomach growling or rumbling, nausea, or gassiness (flatulence and/or burping).
Causes of bloating
One common cause of bloating is constipation. You can be constipated and not realize it, since having fewer bowel movements than you normally do is just one symptom of constipation. You may still be constipated even if you have regular bowel movements. Other symptoms of constipation include:-
• Straining to start or finish a bowel movement
• Stool that looks like rocks and pebbles
• Not feeling empty after a bowel movement
• Patient with intestinal bowel sydrome have difficult evacuation of bowels. Thus bowel stuck in between the anus and intestine that cause severe constipation.
Constipation can contribute to abdominal pain and bloating. The longer your stool stays in your colon, the more time bacteria have to ferment what’s there, resulting in more gas and bloating.
Aside from constipation, other causes of bloating include:-
Gut sensitivity:- People with intestinal bowel sydrome can be extremely sensitive to gas, which can cause pain, cramping and diarrhea.
Bacterial growth in the small intestine:- Most healthy people have relatively few bacteria in the small intestine. People who have had intestinal surgery with diarrhea are more likely to have bacterial growth in the small intestine, which can cause bloating.
Gastroparesis:- This condition causes delayed stomach emptying, which can cause bloating, nausea and even bowel blockage.
Gynecological conditions:- Sometimes problems with your ovaries or uterus may cause bloating. Make sure you never skip your annual pelvic exam.
Most often bloating is linked to eating habits or certain foods and beverages that cause the build-up of gasses in the digestive system—among them, carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and sometimes methane or sulfur (which is responsible for the unpleasant odor when gas is released).
Food related bloating includes;-
• Eating too much:- Stomach tissues are stretchy so if you put more into it than it can easily accommodate it will stretch enough to protrude.
• Eating too fast:- Consuming food without taking a break doesn’t give your belly and your brain time to acknowledge the signs of (satiety) fullness. By the time your body catches up, 15 or 20 minutes after you’ve eaten, you may feel as if you’ve downed two or three meals rather than one. It results in swallowed air. Once that air reaches the intestines, you may feel pain and be bloated. The stomach stretches as you eat and sends signals to the brain alerting you that you are full.
• fibre rich diet:- Whole grains and other foods that are rich in fiber can cause bloating, especially if you aren’t used to eating them.
• Consumption of carbonated beverages:- When you chew gum or drink carbonated beverages, you’re essentially consuming air. Carbonated beverages makes our stomach fle
• Consumption of alcohol or alcoholic beverages:- Alcohol of any type may cause temporary puffiness by irritating the lining of the stomach. Bubbly beverages (beer, champagne, cocktails mixed with soda) can be especially problematic.
People who abuse alcohol may develop a condition called alcoholic gastritis—inflammation that tends to flare after a binge, causing bloating and other symptoms.
• Consumption of too much salt:- Where salt goes, fluid follows. If you consume too much salt, bloating and weight gain may follow. Everyone needs some amount of sodium in their diet because it is a critical electrolyte in the body, but too much salt is detrimental to health and can make you bloat. Do not add extra salt when you prepare meals. Most people get more than the maximum recommended amount of sodium every day, the majority of which comes from foods that are processed or from a restaurant. Excess sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure, which puts you at risk for cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.
• Lactose intolerance:- Some people cannot digest a sugar in dairy products called lactose. Lactose intolerance leads to gastrointestinal symptoms like gas, bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Some people who have the condition may be able to indulge in milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream as long as they take a digestive enzyme that aids in the breakdown of lactose beforehand. Others do best by avoiding dairy products altogether. Inability to break down lactose is not the same as a dairy allergy. Symptoms of dairy allergy may include vomiting, hives, and even bloody stool.
• Too much fat in diet:- Fat is a necessary macronutrient the body uses to insulate nerves, make hormones, and build cell structure. Excess fat is a problem because it takes a long time to break down and may cause digestive discomfort and stomach bloating. Ingesting too much may also lead to weight gain. If pounds gained end up around your abdomen, you may have additional pressure and discomfort in your midsection. Moderate your intake of fatty foods and watch your waistline to minimize bloat.
Home remedies for bloating
There are many useful home remedies that can be use to reduce bloating. Here, I am listing some remedies that can be effective in bloating;-
- Ginger, cardamom and fennel:- Ginger is a miracle herb and is used in home remedies to treat diseases like headache, tummy ache and sore throat. It can also be used to get relief from the gas problem and it is an effective remedy for indigestion.
Ways to use ginger, cardamom and fennel:- Take a teaspoon of ground ginger, one teaspoon of cardamom and fennel seeds. Mix all the ingredients together and take a teaspoon of this mixture and add it to a cup of water. Also, add a pinch of asafoetida or hing in the water. Drink this solution twice daily. You can also chew a piece of ginger or drink ginger tea to help proper digestion and control gas production in the stomach.
- Garlic with black pepper and cumin seeds:- Garlic is another option to treat the gas problem. It contains healing property and helps in proper digestion. Add garlic to your meals and soups to reduce the formation of gas.
Ways to use garlic with black pepper and cumin seeds:- Take a cup of water and boil it. Now, take a few cloves of garlic and grind it. Add the ground garlic into the water. Add a few black pepper corns and cumin seeds. Let it boil for coupel of minutes and then take it off the fire. Strain the drink and let it cool. Drink this thrice day.
- Ajwain or carom seeds:- Ajwain or the carom seeds are effective in treating the gas problem. Thymol present in the carom seeds triggers release of gastric juices, which help in proper digestion of the food.
Ways to use ajwain seeds:- Take half a teaspoon of carom seeds and gulp it down with a cup of water. Do this once a day to get relief from gas.
- Buttermilk:- Buttermilk is an excellent remedy for flatulence and it will calm your stomach.
Ways to use buttermilk :- Take a glass of buttermilk and add a pinch of black salt and ground carom seeds. Mix it well and drink it once or twice a day to get relief from the gas problem.
- Steamed pumpkin:- Pumpkin helps in reducing the formation of gas in the stomach. For this remedy, all you need is pumpkin.
Ways to use steamed pumpkin:- Take a cup of pumpkin and steam it. You can also have it raw or baked or boiled. Eat it every day.