Abdominal bloating is a common condition affecting around 30% of the people. In this condition, your abdomen feels gaseous and full, and can even appear to be swollen. This condition interferes with the ability of the patient to participate in recreational or social activities. You can even experience pain and discomfort during this condition.


Causes:

There are various causes resulting in abdominal bloating (Mayo Clinic 2014). Some causes include 

Eating fatty foods, which can cause stomach discomfort

Drinking carbonated drinks

Swallowing air by sucking on straws, eating very fast or chewing gums

Smoking

Stress

Certain gastrointestinal or urinary tract infections can cause bloating.

Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome are other conditions that can lead to abdominal bloating.


Symptoms:

Abdominal bloating is sometimes accompanied by stomach pain, painful bowel movements, nausea, excessive flatulence, frequent belching and burping and abdominal rumbling. Sometimes, in extreme cases, you could notice bloody diarrhea, heartburn, weight loss, high fevers and vomiting.


Treatment:

Abdominal bloating can be treated after the cause has been determined. However, if no cause has been diagnosed, the best treatment includes avoidance of the food items that have caused bloating. Antibiotics are prescribed in case of infections. Medications or even surgery is prescribed in serious conditions.


Prevention:

Avoid lactose and gluten-containing food items if the abdominal bloating is due to these offending foods. Drink plenty of water to reduce abdominal pain. Prefer softer foods like rice pudding or applesauce rather than eating solid foods if you are suffering from abdominal bloating. Avoid artificial sweeteners and oily and fatty foods, aerated drinks, chewing gum (Merck Manual 2013) that can cause stomach discomfort. Include lots of green vegetables with high fiber content for better digestion.


Science and Research:

There are many reports that describe the various treatment strategies for abdominal bloating. In one such report, the authors describe the use of antibiotics, probiotics, prokinetics, antispasmodics, and dietary Interventions to reduce the symptoms of abdominal bloating. The authors have also mentioned that some synthetic gas reducing substances like antifoam agents, fluid secretion enhancements substances, and small-dose antidepressants, can be used for the treatment of the condition (Seo et al., 2013).


References:

1. Mayo Clinic. 2014. Bloating, belching and intestinal gas: How to avoid them. Accessed on 29th Nov 2015 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gas-and-gas-pains/in-depth/gas-and-gas-pains/art-20044739

2. Seo AY, Kim N, Oh DH. 2013. Abdominal bloating: pathophysiology and treatment. J Neurogast Mot, 19(4), 433.

3. The Merck Manuals. 2013. Gas-related complaints. The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. Accessed on 29th Nov 2015 from http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal_disorders/symptoms_of_gi_disorders/gas-related_complaints.html. 

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