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Abdominal bloating is a condition in which the abdomen feels full and/or tight. This may happen with or without physical distention (swelling) of the abdominal wall. Abdominal bloating can cause discomfort or pain, as well as hinder your overall feeling of well-being. In some cases, bloating can interfere with the way clothing fits or affect your confidence in social settings. A 2008 population-based study found that about 20% of people are experiencing bloating and/or abdominal distention at any given time. Most Americans will experience temporary abdominal bloating at some point during their lives. Rarely, abdominal bloating can be cause of a more serious illness.
There are a variety of causes of abdominal bloating, and a variety of potential treatment methods.
According to the National Institute of Health, the following may be causes of abdominal bloating:
The following can increase your risk of abdominal bloating:
Abdominal Bloating can most likely be recognized by your doctor through either a symptom report or a physical exam. To rule out the possibility of a more serious condition, your doctor may conduct several of the following diagnostic tests:
The symptoms of bloating can be a bit difficult to pinpoint precisely, but most people describe an uncomfortable feeling of fullness or swelling in the abdomen, which is sometimes accompanied by pain, excessive gas, frequent burping, and a rumbling belly.
Mild cases of abdominal bloating may go away without treatment after several hours or days. More persistent cases of abdominal bloating may require lifestyle changes such as changes to diet/exercise routine, and can improve after several days or weeks. More severe cases of abdominal bloating may be associated with pre-existing conditions and therefore may take longer to resolve.
The following tips can help you lessen abdominal bloating:
Bloating can most often be resolved through making the following lifestyle changes:
In addition to lifestyle changes, over the counter (OTC) medications can help manage abdominal bloating, depending on the cause. Active ingredients to look for in OTC medications include:
Bloating that is not resolved by lifestyle changes and/or over the counter medications may be the result of a more serious condition. If you experience bloating that is not bettered by OTC meditation or lifestyle changes, visit your doctor. He or she will be able to more thoroughly diagnose the cause of your symptoms.
The following alternative treatments may help to lessen or prevent abdominal bloating:
Herbal therapies. Several herbs have been shown to promote healthy digestion and decrease the severity of abdominal bloating. According to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, these include:
Bulking agents such as psyllium husk and alfalfa can improve abdominal bloating if the cause is digestive irregularity, but can worsen bloating if the cause is constipation. Be sure to drink plenty of water while taking a bulking agent to prevent constipation.
Acupuncture, a form of traditional Chinese medicine in which thin needles are inserted at points around the body to restore the bodily flow of energy. Acupuncture has been proven to decrease stress and anxiety, and can also help to restore proper digestion.
Yoga. Yoga is a form of mind and body exercise that has potential to decrease stress and prevent many gastrointestinal diseases. For the best effect, yoga should be practiced for at least 20 minutes a day, every day. The breathing exercises associated with yoga, known as pranayama, can be especially helpful in reducing the severity of gastrointestinal disruptions as they work to strengthen the diaphragm/chest muscles and also reduce stress/anxiety.
Meditation/guided imagery, which can be effective means of stress reduction and management. Meditation can be conducted independently or in a group setting. Guided imagery typically is conducted in a group setting or one on one with a therapist, though pre-recorded audio files of guided imagery are available.
If you are experiencing abdominal bloating, contact a doctor if you notice any of the following:
**This may be a sign of a heart attack, contact emergency services immediately.
You may want to ask your doctor the following questions:
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