What is bloating?
Bloating is a condition where your stomach feels full and tight, making you feel very uncomfortable. It can be caused by simple things like overeating or taking in too much air as you eat, but it is often associated with an underlying gastrointestinal issue such as IBS.
Let’s exclude overeating and assume you suffer from abdominal bloating even when you’ve been ‘moderate’. There are a number of underlying conditions that may be causing the discomfort, so it’s important to identify the real issue and take steps to manage it.
What causes bloating?
Some of the most common causes of abdominal bloating include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. The exact cause of IBS is not known, but it’s believed that those who suffer it have very sensitive bowels that are easily upset.
- The longer stool sits in your colon, the more time bacteria have to ferment and therefore create gas (flatulence), making you feel fuller and more uncomfortable
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which involves inflammation of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract possibly Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
- Coeliac disease, a disease whereby your immune system ‘attacks’ the small intestine, triggered by gluten found in food (mainly wheat)
- This is a condition that involves slow emptying of food from the stomach into the small intestine
- Reactions to certain foods. As well as gluten, sometimes your body has difficulty digesting certain types of sugars. They are known collectively as FODMAPs (which stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols). These sugars are found in wheat, rye, onions, garlic, legumes such as chickpeas, lentils and beans and other foods. Foods or drinks containing fructose or artificial sweeteners are also considered FODMAPs.
- Lactose and gluten intolerances
- Overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine (SIBO)
How to manage bloating
The management of stomach bloating will depend on the cause, so the first step is to talk to your health professional about identifying the underlying condition. Many of the causes can be managed with changes to diet or lifestyle. You can learn more about IBS, SIBO, constipation and other gut health issues on this website.