Not at all; here are some reasons why
7 March 2019| Last updated on 11 March 2019
Are you feeling bloated? If yes then you`re not alone, we’ve all felt it.
That `too-full` feeling one suffers from in the belly, known for all as stomach bloating, is so common nowadays it’s been considered as a global problem, an epidemic as described by some.
With most people living non-healthy lifestyles with poor diets, high levels of daily stress, exposure to different pollutants, and intake of various medications for a long list of chronic ailments, it’s no wonder people suffer some sort of bloating more days than not.
Simply portrayed, bloating describes the feeling of having built-up gas in the digestive tract that causes the stomach to protrude disturbingly.
Some people even joke about it saying that they “seem like pregnant” when their abdominal bloating becomes too obvious and bothersome.
While a bloated stomach is certainly uncomfortable and even embarrassing when it troubles you along with passing wind or the urge to rush to the bathroom, it might be a bigger deal than you’d expect.
Stomach bloating is most often nothing to be alarmed about, but it can sometimes signify a health problem lurking below the surface.
Bloated stomach … Why?
You might be wondering what causes stomach bloating. Actually, there are lots of various devious reasons you might develop a bloated stomach, ranging from faulty eating habits to more serious health problems and it might seem hard to narrow down the list of offenders, but the more information you know, the better idea you’ll have as to what triggers your complaint.
Here are some of the common causes behind stomach bloating:
- 1. Constipation: Now that`s one extremely common cause of bloating. Actually, so many people don’t even recognize that have an element of constipation. Having fewer bowel movements than you normally do is a symptom of constipation, same as the need to strain to start or finish a bowel movement, stools that look like pebbles, as well as the feeling of incomplete emptying after a bowel movement.
Constipation can indeed contribute to abdominal discomfort and bloating. The longer the stools remain inside the colon, the more time the bacteria have to ferment it, with the development of more gases and this ends up with feeling bloated.
- 2. Indigestion: Also known as dyspepsia, this is a general term that describes discomfort in your upper abdomen. Indigestion is not a disease onto itself, but rather some troubling symptoms you suffer, including abdominal pain and a feeling of fullness shortly after eating. In most cases indigestion is related to over-eating, and can be triggered by certain factors such as smoking, stress, or the intake of certain medications and pain relievers (e.g. non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen). However, it can be a symptom of another digestive tract illness such as gastro-esophageal reflux and stomach ulcers.
- 3. Eating too fast: Are you into the habit of always eating on the run or at your desk while working? You might not be aware of the fact that when you eat in a hurry, you might not be chewing your food properly and accordingly, your digestive tract has to strive harder to process the chunks of undigested food which can lead to bloating.
- 4. Addiction to coffee: It’s not always what you eat, but also what you drink that can cause the dreaded sense of bloating. If you`re accustomed to consume several cups of coffee a day, then you`re into some bad news. Black coffee is an acidic drink, which can cause irritation to your stomach, leading to the production of gas. Also adding sugar to your coffee can make the bloating even worse.
Moreover, if you are among those who frequently indulge in cappuccinos or habitually add milk to their coffee, the lactose in the milk could make you feel bloated if you have an intolerance that you`re not aware of because of its mild nature.
- 5. Chronic digestive tract disorders: Some gut problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can also cause frequent bloating, cramping, altered bowel motions and unintentional weight loss. IBS is a functional disorder, which means there’s nothing wrong with the structure of the bowel itself, but the way the gut works is abnormal.
- 6. Gluten Sensitivity: This could be the cause if you often feel tired, been losing weight for no ¬apparent reason or unable to add weight despite not being on diet, or you are frequently suffering from ¬abdominal pain and bloating. Coeliac disease is an adverse reaction to gluten intake, which is found in wheat and barley as well as all foods containing it; everything from pasta and bread to pies and some gravies and sauces. It is an autoimmune ailment in which the body mistakes substances in gluten for a threat and attacks it; with subsequent damage to the surface of the small bowel and disturbance of its digestive function.
Interestingly, it used to be mainly undiagnosed in children, but it’s now well-known that some people can go undiagnosed until middle age. That`s why the ¬National Institute for Health and Clinical ¬Excellence guidelines state that anyone with bloating and other IBS-related symptoms should be tested for it.
- 7. Hormonal changes: Among females, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a common cause for stomach bloating. It refers to physical and emotional symptoms that occur 1-2 weeks before a woman's period. Symptoms are variable among women and it includes in addition to a sense of dreadful bloating: acne, tender breasts, tiredness, anxiety, irritability, and mood swings.
Talk to your trusted Internist
Because so many faulty habits, disorders and illnesses can cause a bloated stomach, it’s always a wise idea to have your health status be assessed by your Internist and undergo some investigations if you can’t figure out the underlying issue and the repetition of the distressing complaint of bloating.
If you’re not sure whether your bloating is serious, it’s always better to err on the side of seeking medical advice rather than ignoring it and hoping for the best.
Dr. Dragana Sarenac
Internal Medicine Specialist, MD
Dubai London Clinic