A swollen belly, or the feeling of being bloated, is something that most of us will have experienced at some point in our lives. The symptoms of abdominal swelling may cause you to feel full and uncomfortable and, depending on how swollen the stomach is, it can be quite painful. Often the swelling will pass within a few hours but, in some cases, it can last for longer.
Whether your symptoms are mildly bothersome or frequent and debilitating, you may be able to help manage them by understanding the common causes of bloating.
Swallowing air and bloating
One of the more common causes of stomach bloating is swallowing too much air, for example whilst eating or drinking. Unlike food and liquid, our bodies sometimes can't cope with the intake of too much air and this can lead to the air becoming trapped in our stomachs causing that bloated feeling.
In order to avoid this, there are a few simple ways to limit the amount of air we take into our stomachs. To start, try to avoid eating and talking at the same time. As well as being good manners, the two actions combined can easily lead to swallowing too much air. Additionally, try not to slouch or lie down when you eat, drink less fizzy drinks, and avoid chewing gum.
Food intolerance and bloating
Another common cause of stomach bloating can be food intolerance. In the UK it’s estimated that roughly 2 million people are living with a diagnosed food allergy, and 600,000 (1 in 100) are living with coeliac disease. The NHS identifies gluten and dairy products as one of the leading causes of stomach bloating among those with food allergies.
Food allergies occur when our bodies are unable to correctly process certain chemicals in our food which can lead to an unpleasant range of symptoms. However, when it comes to bloating, the most common problems can be your bowel not emptying correctly, the food creates too much gas, or the food itself causes gas to become trapped.
If you experience regular bloating, then it could be caused by a food allergy.
Excess wind and bloating
You do not necessarily need to have a food intolerance to experience excess gas - it could simply be down to the types of food you eat. Certain foods produce more gas than others when they are broken down by our stomachs and can result in flatulence (farting). Passing wind is a perfectly natural way of releasing this excess wind, despite the fact that many people find it embarrassing.
However, if you’re concerned about excess wind, why not try reducing the intake of some of the following foods and see if it makes a difference:
Of course, you should still do your best to ensure that you maintain a healthy and balanced diet that includes fibre foods, as a diet too low in fibre can result in constipation. To make sure you’re not quitting a lot of things at once, and maybe unnecessarily, why not keep a food diary and monitor it for any foods that have caused you to bloat.
Constipation and bloating
Bloating can also be caused by constipation, if you’re unable to pass stool over a period of time then this can quickly lead to you feeling bloated and sluggish. It may be constipation if you fail to poo at least three times a week, it may be difficult to pass, and you may have a stomach ache.
Luckily, if this bloat is affecting you, it can be helped along with a few changes to your diet. Try eating more fibre (such as fruit, vegetables and cereals), drink more fluids, and try to get more exercise. Constipation can usually be treated at home, but if it persists then see a doctor.
Rennie Deflatine is an effective over-the-counter treatment specifically formulated to tackle uncomfortable trapped wind and bloating. It contains an active ingredient called simeticone, which works to disperse the gas the bubbles.
Find out more about how it works and how to take it here.
Rennie Deflatine. Always read the label.