It’s safe to say that most people will experience bloating at some point. And if not familiar with what’s happening, it’s easy to become emotionally distressed about it. In most cases the discomfort is harmless. But it’s important to know if it’s more serious.
If you’re feeling something uncomfortable or painful, consider a few of the following points and be ready to set up an appointment or a virtual TeleHealth appointment.
While causes can differ, the effect is usually the same—excess gas in the digestive tract. You may even experience a wide range of embarrassing or uncomfortable symptoms that can include increased belching and flatulence or even the visible swelling of the abdomen.
Though uncomfortable, a single bout of pain and bloating is not typically a cause for alarm. However, if the symptoms persist, it may be time to meet with a doctor. There are some serious conditions that can cause abdominal pain and bloating and the symptoms should not be ignored.
What Causes Bloating?
It’s always important to find the underlying causes of any illness. Here are some of the possible reasons you might be feeling bloated and gassy:
- Over-eating: Eating too much is one of the most common causes of abdominal bloating. Digesting some foods can create intestinal gas and makes for a combo that can make you feel bloated.
- Reaction to Diet: Bloating can occur when your body has a difficult time digesting certain sugars in foods or other ingredients. Some people don’t make enough lactase in their gut to handle dairy, which leads to lactose intolerance. Thankfully, there are some over-the-counter Lactaid medications to still enjoy your food, but avoid the downside of it later.
- Eating too quickly: When you scarf your food down, you are inevitably swallowing air along with the food; this air can get trapped in the stomach and build up, leading to bloating.
- Gastroparesis: With this condition, there is a delay of stomach emptying, which leads to nausea, bloating, and sometimes a bowel blockage. Gastroparesis makes your stomach unable to empty itself of food in a normal way, which causes the delay. The cause of this is unknown, but it usually happens when there is a damaged vagus nerve that prevents the muscles in the intestine and stomach from properly functioning. Women tend to experience gastroparesis more than men.
- Inactivity: Physical activity is beneficial for digestive health because it strengthens the abdominal wall and helps digested food move through your digestive tract. Too much inactivity can add to the body’s propensity to be bloated and gassy.
- Constipation: Some people don’t even realize they are constipated, but it’s quite common. Some of the things people use to treat constipation - eating high-fiber foods, for example - can inadvertently add to the feeling of being bloated.
- Lactose intolerance: Lactose intolerance has symptoms that often include bloating, gas, diarrhea, and other digestive health issues.
- Intestinal disorders: Some intestinal disorders, like IBS, Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis, occur in the small and large intestine and often include bloating. In most cases, however, bloating will be just one of the numerous symptoms that point to an intestinal disorder.
- Smoking: Toxins in cigarette smoke can irritate the lining of your stomach and actually add to the feeling of being bloated.
When Should I Talk to My Doctor?
Bloating is common, but when it persists or is associated with other symptoms, it may be time to talk to your doctor. For example, when chronic bloating is associated with sudden, unintentional weight loss, it can be a sign of a more serious digestive disorder.
Take advantage of the convenience of a TeleHealth visit to start a discussion with your doctor.
Carolina Digestive has introduced TeleHealth to meet with you virtually in the comfort of your own home. If you would like to have the advice of a doctor to discover the best course of action moving forward, simply call our office at 704-372-7974 to get started.