Bloating occurs when the gastrointestinal tract fills with gas or air. Eating or drinking too quickly can cause bloat, as can eating or drinking certain foods and beverages like broccoli or carbonated beverages. Chewing gum, smoking, and even wearing dentures can also make a person more susceptible to bloating. Gases that form in the gastrointestinal tract require elimination. Symptoms of bloating can lead to significant discomfort until the body can naturally dispel these gases.
Bloating can occur when the gastrointestinal tract is slow to eliminate existing gases while more gases accumulate. Burping and flatulence are the primary methods for dispelling gas. While it can occur spontaneously, underlying conditions can also cause a person to be more vulnerable. Heartburn, food intolerances, weight gain, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, hormonal fluctuations, celiac disease, eating disorders, and mood disturbances are a few of the ailments that can lead to bloat.
Bloating often causes a sense of abdominal fullness and makes the abdomen feel swollen or hard. Pain or discomfort in the abdominal area is common. Other common symptoms of bloat include excessive burping or flatulence and abdominal rumbling. These symptoms can occur in both children and adults. When it is severe, it can interfere with daily activities like work or school.
Some people may find it difficult to determine what, if any, foods are causing their bloat. If it occurs frequently, it may be helpful to keep a food journal. If eating certain foods like beans, lentils, or cabbage (common foods associated with bloating) trigger episodes, it may be best to avoid them. Some people can ward off bloating by taking over-the-counter medications designed to prevent the gas buildup occurs as a result of eating foods like beans.
Eating foods like Greek yogurt is a great way to introduce healthy probiotics into the digestive tract. Probiotics are the “good” bacteria that the gastrointestinal tract relies on to support healthy digestion. Bloating happens when the bad bacteria begin to over-populate the gut. Eating Greek yogurt regularly ensures a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Other natural probiotics include kimchi, tempeh, and kefir.
For centuries, folk medicine practitioners have prescribed certain herbs to alleviate gastrointestinal discomfort associated with bloating and indigestion. Herbs like chamomile, peppermint, parsley, basil, and fennel are known to help dispel bloating and diminish the discomfort it causes. People who suffer from chronic episodes of bloat should consider making these herbs part of their weekly diet.
Some people who suffer from bloating may find relief by taking an after-meal walk. Very light exercise like walking can encourage the body to speed up its processes. Slouching or laying down after a meal, on the other hand, can cause the digestive process to stagnate, which can lead to an unpleasant bout of bloat. Sitting up straight for a while after eating may also promote more efficient digestion.
Eating a large amount of food in one sitting can overwhelm the digestive tract and cause it to slow. Slow digestion coupled with an accumulation of gases can lead to painful bloating. Individuals who suffer bloating or indigestion after eating large portions should try to eat small portions of food more frequently. Rather than three large meals, they may aim for six small ones. This practice can speed up metabolism and train the digestive tract to process food more efficiently.
Sometimes home remedies are not effective. Some over-the-counter medications are specifically designed to alleviate the symptoms. Women, who are more susceptible to hormone-triggered bloating, will find various options designed to ease this and other symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Other products are designed to alleviate general gastrointestinal complaints. However, individuals who experience chronic bloating may require prescription medications.
Individuals with conditions that trigger bloating may have a doctor prescribe medication stronger than that they can get themselves. There are prescription drugs, for instance, that treat irritable bowel disease and gastric reflux. Individuals who deal with it on a chronic basis may need to undergo medical testing to determine what is causing the symptom. In some cases, lifestyle changes such as diet alterations can help. Others may require medical treatments or therapies.
Bloating -- specifically instances unrelated to other conditions -- may be prevented by avoiding triggering foods. Chewing foods slowly can help prevent swallowing excess air with food. If simple measures do not appear to work to stave off bloat, individuals may want to consult a healthcare provider to determine what is causing the issue.
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