Bloated Stomach: Causes and Treatment

Unfortunately, multiple factors can cause a bloated stomach, most of them related to the ingestion of certain foods.
Bloated Stomach: Causes and Treatment

Last update: 03 January, 2023

A bloated stomach is one of the most common conditions in men and women worldwide. It usually occurs in the form of heaviness and cramps. Are you interested in knowing what the causes are and what to do with this inflammation of the stomach? Read on, and we’ll tell you.

The term inflamed or bloated stomach refers to the feeling of distention and bloating in the abdomen that’s often accompanied by gastric discomfort and fullness. This condition is common in adults, and is usually associated with poor eating habits.

Causes of a bloated stomach

In general, this condition can be triggered by several factors, with poor digestion and excessive food consumption being the main culprits. A bloated stomach isn’t usually a serious problem for the body. However, it requires certain treatment in order to avoid future complications.

1. Excessive food consumption

Ingesting large amounts of food is often associated with a constant feeling of fullness or bloating in the stomach. This is due to the gastric and digestive capacity being exceeded. In these cases, the food bolus is retained for a longer time, causing the sensation of a bloated stomach.

Eating too quickly can also cause this. In general, this eating behavior delays the sending of satiety signals to the brain, which means we tend to eat more food.

In addition, when eating in this way, people don’t tend to chew their food properly and this hinders the work of the digestive enzymes. For this reason, intestinal transit will slow down, thus causing a bloated stomach, acid reflux, belching, and constipation.

What to do?

You can prevent this unpleasant stomach sensation with small lifestyle changes. In this sense, we recommend that you progressively reduce the amount and frequency of your food intake. In this way, the body will adapt to smaller portions and the breakdown of food will be easier.

And, as we mentioned before, it’s essential that you chew your food properly. To do so, it’s advisable to chew between 30 to 50 times on each mouthful of food, or at least for 30 seconds. Studies suggest that this will stimulate a digestion of food and reduce the risk of becoming overweight or obese.

2. Bad eating habits

A bloated stomach and the influence of diet
Sooner or later, consuming ultra-processed foods will lead to gastrointestinal problems.

Diet and food selection play a key role in most gastrointestinal conditions. In general, high-fat foods and industrialized foods take longer to digest. This is because they are processed by a more complex metabolic method.

In addition, the intestinal microbiota works on this type of food, increasing the production of gases. For this reason, affected people often have a feeling of abdominal distention, a swollen stomach, flatulence, and belching.

Complex carbohydrates, grains, and refined flours can have a similar effect on the body. These foods are sensitive to gastrointestinal fermentation with excessive release of gases. Patients with irritable bowel are at high risk of having a bloated stomach when consuming these foods.

What to do?

The correction of dietary habits is the main way to prevent this condition. Nutritionists can be of great help in creating an eating plan tailored to each person’s needs.

Some research suggests that the fat content in the diet should represent a maximum of 30% of the total caloric value. Similarly, it’s recommended that saturated fats make up less than 10% and trans fats less than 1%.

It’s also advisable to reduce or eliminate the consumption of ultra-processed foods rich in sugars. In this way, you don’t only reduce the risk of suffering from an inflamed stomach, but also metabolic diseases such as diabetes mellitus.

3. Dyspepsia

Dyspepsia is also often called indigestion. This term refers to discomfort or pain that originates in the upper abdomen. In addition, affected people often have a bloated stomach sensation, heartburn, retching, and nausea.

This condition is often related to the consumption of highly spicy foods and irritating drinks such as coffee and soft drinks. Similarly, some emotional factors can act as triggers for indigestion, such as depression, anxiety, and stress.

On the other hand, the consumption of some medications is also associated with dyspepsia and a bloated stomach. Corticosteroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and diclofenac, are some of the main culprits. In some cases, it’s also associated with the presence of a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori.

What to do?

Treatment of dyspepsia is based around relieving symptoms and making some lifestyle changes. The gastroenterology (digestive system) specialist is responsible for identifying this condition and guiding the person in recovering their health.

Pharmacological recommendations may include the use of antacids and gastric protectants, such as omeprazole. Similarly, the affected person should avoid the consumption of coffee, alcohol, and carbonated drinks. In addition, it’s essential to maintain a healthy diet, low in fat and rich in vegetables.

4. Food intolerance

Food intolerance refers to the manifestation of secondary reactions in the body after eating a meal. Studies (article in Spanish) estimate that over 30% of adults have adverse reactions to food.

People with food intolerance are unable to digest specific foods. This promotes the appearance of various symptoms such as the feeling of a bloated stomach, abdominal pain, nausea, and abdominal heaviness.

Gluten in flours and cereals, as well as lactose in milk are some of the agents responsible for this disease. However, people can also experience adverse reactions to the consumption of shellfish, nuts, and some fruits.

What to do?

The diagnosis of food intolerance is made by a gastroenterologist. In this sense, it’s advisable to seek medical attention as soon as possible before the appearance of symptoms related to this condition. Similarly, it’s vital to stop consuming food that is connected with the medical condition.

5. Infections

An bloated stomach can be associated with diarrhea
In addition to bloating, when a gastrointestinal infection occurs, other symptoms such as diarrhea, malaise, or fever often appear.

Infections with certain parasites, bacteria, and viruses can be responsible for a large number of gastrointestinal symptoms. Parasitosis by agents such as Giardia lamblia and Entamoeba histolytica usually trigger diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, nausea, flatulence, and a bloated stomach.

On the other hand, bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Helicobacter pylori can also invade the gastric mucosa and cause abdominal discomfort. These types of infections can be accompanied by ulceration, heartburn, loss of appetite, and excess gas. In children, virus infections such as rotavirus and norovirus are very common.

What to do?

If a gastrointestinal infection is suspected, professional medical attention should be sought as soon as possible. Treatment will depend on the agent or germ responsible and the severity of the condition. In cases of diarrhea and vomiting, it’s essential to maintain an adequate fluid intake.

The symptoms of a bloated stomach progressively diminish as the infection clears up. In addition, it’s advisable to maintain a healthy diet, avoiding processed foods rich in sugar or fat.

A condition that shouldn’t go unnoticed

In most cases, a bloated stomach is a sign that something isn’t working properly at a gastrointestinal level. In general, it’s the result of food reactions or mild illnesses that can be easily dealt with. However, a lack of treatment can lead to several long-term complications.

Having said this, a health professional should be consulted immediately if the discomfort persists or other symptoms occur. Doctors are trained to identify the specific cause of this condition and provide prompt treatment.

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Los contenidos de esta publicación se redactan solo con fines informativos. En ningún momento pueden servir para facilitar o sustituir diagnósticos, tratamientos o recomentaciones provenientes de un profesional. Consulta con tu especialista de confianza ante cualquier duda y busca su aprobación antes de iniciar o someterse a cualquier procedimiento.