Six reasons why you are so bloated - and when to go to the doctor

Bloating is defined as the swelling - or increase in diameter - of the abdominal area.

The pain is caused by the stomach becoming very tight, and feeling very full.

The condition could be a sign of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), coeliac disease, or a food intolerance.

But, more often than not, there’s a harmless reason for bloating, according to the NHS.

Excess wind

Bloating could be caused by excess wind. The best way to reduce the pain is to cut back on foods known to cause wind, including Brussel sprouts, onions and broccoli.

Constipation

It could also be a sign of constipation. Eating a fibre-rich diet will help to regulate the digestive system and ease bloating.

Exercise may help to reduce constipation symptoms. Just a 20-30 minute power walk, four times a week, can improve bowel function, said the NHS.

Swallowing too much air

Swallowing too much air could also lead to bloating. This could be prevented by not talking and eating at the same time, by sitting upright when eating, and by cutting back on fizzy drinks.

“Not giving the digestive system enough time to do it's job and swallowing air with your food can cause a bit of ballooning, but this usually goes down once the body has caught up to speed,” said Tanya Niedzwiecki, a body transformation coach.

Food intolerance

Stomach pain could be a sign of an intolerance to a certain type of food - usually gluten or dairy.

Food intolerance can cause bloating if too much gas is produced when the food is digested, or if the bowels aren’t properly emptied.

“Common culprits include dairy, wheat, gluten, legumes, cruciferous veg - including broccoli, cabbage and sprouts - and artificial sweeteners. Over-consumption of simple sugars and processed foods can also be to blame too,” said Niedzwiecki. 

Keeping a food diary could help to find patterns in the discomfort, following certain meals.

IBS

IBS could cause bloating and swelling of the stomach by the “erratic propulsion” digested foods through the bowel, the NHS said.

The condition could also cause diarrhoea, constipation, and an urgent need to use the toilet.

Coeliac disease

Coeliac disease may be the cause of bloating. The condition is a common digestive problem, where the intestine fails to absorb gluten form wheat, barley and rye.

There is no cure for coeliac disease, although cutting out gluten from the diet should help to reduce symptoms. 

If bloating persists for most days over a three week period, it’s a good idea to see a GP.

Bloating is particularly common over weekends, and over the Christmas period.



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