Seventeen million Americans see a doctor each year about frequent gas and twenty-seven million Americans experience excessive bloating. Most people do not understand the difference between bloating and distension.
Irregular digestion is often the cause of abdominal distension. The body often produces too many sulfur gasses and other gasses in the body. When the amount of gas reaches what is considered excessive gas which stretch the intestinal canal producing the painful effect of stomach bloating. Common causes of bloating are intolerance to milk products or lactose, certain food allergies, eating too many foods like beans or green veggies, or digestive disorders such as the Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Artificial sweeteners like sorbitol or fructose are also known to cause abdominal bloating and excessive gas.
Other common causes of abdominal bloating, distension, flatulence or stomach pain are partial bowel obstruction, constipation or diarrhea, harmful intestine bacteria or parasites, Diverticulosis or other medical problems
Distension is often indicative of a more serious condition than bloating because it can be caused by a digestive tract organ swelling, inflammation, unusually high gas concentration, various fluid imbalances, abnormal tissue growth, or some sort of Gastrointestinal (GI) blockage by possible tumors (malignant or benign), or obesity.
If bloating or distension is intermittent, the cause is usually increase of gas, which can be cured by change of diet or lifestyle adjustments. If the symptoms are chronic, digestive diseases, enlarged abdominal organs, abdominal fluid, obesity or tumors are suspected. Digestive tests may include abdominal and small intestine x-rays check for the presence of air or obstruction. Other imaging tests like CT scans and MRI can be used to find tumors or inflamed and enlarged abdominal organs. Methane/hydrogen breath tests measure the amount of these gasses to check for signs of bacteria.
Abdominal bloating prevention consists of dietary fiber increases, diet and lifestyle changes. Keeping and monitoring changes in a food diary is an easy and effective approach to figuring out which foods or drinks may be causing the gas or flatulence.
Some dietary changes people can try are adding or subtracting high-fiber foods from their diets to relieve constipation or diarrhea. Consuming more water is almost never a bad idea. It is also almost never a bad idea to avoid soft drinks and carbonated beverages that contain too many natural sugars or artificial sweeteners. Eat natural foods instead of processed foods. Take it easy on dairy products. Try to avoid alcohol or caffeine and make sure to get a reasonable amount of exercise.
Bloating may be accompanied by symptoms like seeing mucus in poop, abdominal pains, and feeling of fatigue and being irritable. If you experience this, do not be alarmed. Most of the time these symptoms simply go away on their own after a few days. If the symptoms persist you may want to think carefully about your diet and lifestyle to determine whether something you are consuming may be causing irritation within your digestive system.