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Abdominal Bloating

Abdominal bloating is a very common complaint in both adults and children. It is a condition in which the abdomen feels uncomfortably full, tight and gaseous. It may also be visibly swollen (distended) in some cases. It occurs when the abdomen fills with air or gas and visually appear larger than normal causing pain and discomfort to the patient.

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Causes of Abdominal Bloating

The most common causes of abdominal bloating include:

  • Swallowing air
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Giardiasis
  • Eating too fast
  • Lactose or other food intolerance
  • Overeating
  • Small bowel bacterial overgrowth
  • Hormonal flux
  • Weight gain
  • Certain medicines like anti-diabetic medicines etc.

Abdominal bloating can also be a symptom of several serious conditions, including

  • Ascites
  • Appendicitis
  • Tumor
  • Celiac disease
  • Dumping syndrome
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Pancreatic insufficiency
  • An ovarian cyst
  • A urinary tract infection (UTI)
What Are the Symptoms of Abdominal Bloating?

Abdominal bloating is itself a symptom and patient complains of following on his visit to a doctor:

  • Uncomfortable feeling of fullness, tightness, or swelling in the abdomen
  • Abdominal pain
  • Excessive gas
  • Frequent burping or belching
  • Abdominal rumbling or gurgles
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Pain while intercourse
How Is the Cause of Abdominal Bloating Determined?

Abdominal bloating is itself a symptom that can occur due to so many reasons. So doctor performs a thorough physical exam, followed by some diagnostic tests to evaluate the exact reason of abdominal bloating:

  • Stool test
  • Blood tests
  • Barium swallows
  • An endoscopy
  • Colonoscopy
  • X-ray
  • An ultrasound
  • CT scan
  • MRI
Treatment Options for Abdominal Bloating

Abdominal bloating can subside in some cases by adopting a few simple diet and lifestyle changes. Other than this, the treatment depends upon the underlying cause of abdominal bloating and may include the following:

  • Antibiotics for infections
  • Over-the-counter gas-reducing medications
  • Medications to encourage intestinal movement
  • Surgery can be required in severe and rare instances