ABDOMINAL SWELLING: causes and remedies of a swollen belly

Abdominal swelling

You have a swollen stomach and would like to understand what it depends on and, above all, how to solve this annoying problem? Then you have come to the right address: in this article you will find the most frequent causes of abdominal swelling and the main remedies that can be implemented.

Bloated belly or stomach: causes and symptoms of bloating in the abdomen

What does the abdominal bloating what often strikes us? Many people turn to their doctor's attention for advice on abdominal bloating, a disorder characterized by an uncomfortable feeling of fullness and of voltage at the level ofabdomen due to a accumulation of gas in the gastrointestinal system (i.e. the digestive system, which runs from the stomach to the large intestine).

The gastro-intestinal system produces daily, by microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast, a mixture of gases which are a by-product of the digestion of complex carbohydrates. If for pathologies or for errors in nutrition, the quantity of these gases increases, a situation of abdominal tension is created. Abdominal bloating is a very complex malaise to classify because many different causes can be hidden behind it.

In most cases, the swollen belly it's a passenger disturbance which should not cause particular concern and which can be easily solved with simple changes in your lifestyle. Other times, however, it is the symptom of physiological phenomena, such as the menopause or the pregnancy. Finally, in some cases it is a sign of more or less important disorders on which it is useful to investigate with blood tests and diagnostic tests.

Causes of abdominal bloating

To face the problem correctly, it is therefore necessary to know the main ones causes of swollen belly.
By examining the benign causes of abdominal tension, the feeling of a belly swollen and hard after meals may be due ingestion of an excessive amount of air favored by the habit of eating with greed or too much haste, and by the consumption of carbonated drinks. Also phenomena of anxiety and of stress, smoking and chewing gum can lead to unnatural swallowing of air.

The accumulation of intestinal gas can be linked to the digestion of foods that cause a high degree of fermentation in the intestine, or to food intolerance, like the one at lactose or al gluten. In the first case, the diagnosis will be made simply by eliminating milk, cheese and all foods containing lactose. In the second case, the diagnosis of celiac disease it will be placed through the dosage of anti-transglutaminase and anti-endomysium antibodies, and, even more precisely, through duodenal biopsy performed during EGDS (ie the classic gastroscopy).

Fermentation phenomena are generally consequent to the ingestion of some drinks and foods such as legumes (beans, chickpeas, broad beans, lentils), le brassicaceae (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc ..), onions, aubergines, fermented cheeses, fizzy drinks, bread, pizza and beer.

Eating excessive amounts of fatty foods (fried foods, very fatty meats, sausages) can also cause delayed gastric emptying and, therefore, stomach bloating. In addition, anything that irritates the walls of the gastrointestinal tract, such as spicy or overly seasoned cuisine, can cause abdominal tension. the alcohol and the coffee.

Swelling felt in the upper abdomen is associated, in some cases, with slow digestion, especially due to too large meals and, as already mentioned, the consumption of carbonated drinks, alcohol, spicy foods and fruit to end meal.

Normally the sense of heaviness and tension in the abdomen decreases until it disappears at the end of digestion. The distended stomach, combined with a sense of burning in the epigastric level, is often a symptom of gastritis, an inflammation of the mucous membranes of the stomach.

Among the causes of a swollen abdomen there may be an alteration of the intestinal flora, known as intestinal dysbiosis, due to the use of antibiotics, intestinal infections or a prolonged stressful situation. Very common cause of abdominal bloating is the constipation (i.e. the difficulty evacuating), which favors the accumulation of waste substances in the intestine.

It is not uncommon for abdominal swelling to be accompanied by physiological situations such as pregnancy or the period preceding the Menses.

In other cases, the origin of the swollen belly may be real pathologies gastrointestinal more or less serious in progress; among these are, for example, the syndrome irritable bowel, that is an inflammation of the intestine that alters its motility and can lead to a feeling of bloating due to the increased sensitivity to gas.

So let's see a list of the main pathologies responsible for abdominal swelling are:

  • disease of Chron (chronic inflammation mainly localized in the last part of the small intestine or in the colon)
  • irritable colon
  • ulcerative colitis
  • appendicitis (inflammation of the caecal appendix, the last part of the small intestine)
  • peritonitis (inflammation of the peritoneum, the membrane that lines the abdomen);
  • abdominal neoplasms, particularly in the colon, pancreas or ovary
  • calculations to gallbladder.
  • cystic fibrosis
  • diverticulitis (inflammation of the diverticula, small protrusions of the intestinal lumen)
  • giardiasis (parasitic infection caused by the protozoan Giardia lamblia)
  • Lactose intolerance
  • reflux acid, transient or related to GERD, the disease of gastroesophageal reflux
  • constipation (constipation)
  • obstruction intestinal (bowel obstruction)
  • dyspepsia (digestive difficulties)
  • gastroenteritis bacterial or viral (intestinal flu)
  • syndrome premenstrual (PMS)
  • celiac disease
  • intolerance to the gluten
  • hiatal hernia
  • infection from H. pylori
  • syndrome of irritable bowel (IBS)
  • ovarian cysts
  • calculations biliary
  • endometriosis
  • hernia abdominal or inguinal
  • infection of the urinary tract (IVU)
  • colitis
  • ectopic pregnancy
  • giardiasis
  • amoebiosis
  • cystic fibrosis
  • lymphoma non-Hodgkin
  • syndrome of small intestine

The diagnosis of some of these diseases (diverticulitis, colon cancer, Chron's disease and ulcerative colitis) requires the execution of a colonoscopy with possible intestinal biopsy. For other diseases, such as gallbladder or biliary tract stones, pancreatic or ovarian cancer, the first-level examination is ultrasound of the abdomen, possibly followed by CT scan or abdominal resonance.

The formation of excess gas can be associated with disorders of the digestive system such as enteritis, gastroenteritis ed enterocolitis, inflammatory processes caused by bacterial or viral infections, allergic reactions to some foods, food poisoning or intestinal irritation secondary to the very rapid introduction of iced drinks (the so-called "congestion digestive ").

Finally, it should be excluded that the abdominal bloating it is not related to the accumulation of gas, but rather of liquid, as in the case of ascitic effusion (collection of liquid in the peritoneal cavity). Ascites it is a manifestation of diseases such as liver cirrhosis, advanced right heart failure or peritoneal carcinosis. It can also be the result of a nutritional deficiency with a reduced concentration of albumin (hypoalbuminemia) and circulating proteins (hypoprotidemia).

In case the abdominal swelling is accompanied by a increase of weight, therefore, the presence of liquid in the abdomen, rather than gas, must be suspected. A simple maneuver of percussion of the abdomen, or the execution of an x-ray of the abdomen or an abdominal ultrasound, will solve the doubt.

Abdominal bloating: symptoms

People often talk about "Swollen intestine", "swollen and hard abdomen" you hate "Swollen and painful stomach" to describe the condition they suffer from. But what are the symptoms that accompany abdominal bloating? Abdominal bloating can occur in isolation or be associated with other signs and symptoms such as:

  • aerophagia
  • meteorism
  • flatulence
  • abdominal cramps
  • nausea
  • He retched
  • diarrhea
  • belching
  • headache
  • exhaustion

Let's start by trying to clarify three conditions with partly similar characteristics and manifestations: aerophagia, meteorism and flatulence.

Abdominal swelling and aerophagia

Aerophagia, which literally means "eating air", consists of an abnormal swallowing of air, which occurs mainly during meals. This phenomenon can be due to several reasons, including eating voraciously, consuming carbonated drinks, chewing gum or drinking through a straw.

Aerophagia can also be related to anxiety states (which cause the so-called "air hunger"), gastric ulcer, hiatal hernia and pregnancy. Aerophagia can be accompanied by a sense of heaviness, bloated stomach and sore and belching, and is often a cause of bloating.

Abdominal bloating: meteorism

The term meteorism indicates the presence of an increased amount of gas within the intestinal lumen. It can be secondary to the increase in gases produced in the intestine due to the fermentation of certain foods. This gas mixture is mainly composed of nitrogen, hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide and is the by-product of the digestion of foods such as dairy products, artificial sweeteners, cellulose and fiber. It can also be secondary, as explained above, to increased ingestion of air during or outside meals (aerophagia).

Meteorism goes hand in hand with swollen belly and hard, abdominal pain, sometimes with colic, increased borborygmi (the characteristic gurgling produced by intestinal peristalsis), loss of appetite, constipation, belching and flatulence.

Abdominal bloating: belching and flatulence

L'belching it is the most frequent way by which air leaves the stomach and is a normal and absolutely physiological phenomenon, but excessive ingestion of air can lead to more frequent and more intense belching.

There flatulence it is the repeated and recurrent emission of gases formed for the aforementioned conditions and not absorbed by the intestine; these gases are expelled rectally and can have an unpleasant odor due to the bacteria present in the colon that release small amounts of sulfur. The excessive flatulence, in addition to causing annoyance, it can lead to a social problem, with embarrassment and avoidance of closed spaces by those who suffer from it. Fortunately, there are effective remedies capable of reducing the amount of intestinal gas, first of which are proper nutrition and the use of charcoal.

Swollen stomach and cramps

Abdominal bloating can sometimes be associated with cramping pains, passengers or recurring, located in different parts of the abdomen. If the cramps affect the smooth muscles of the stomach or small intestine, they may be a response carried out by the body in response to certain foods as a result of reduced intolerances or allergies.

Other conditions that can induce colic-like pains and cramps are appendicitis, peritonitis, biliary or renal colic, pancreatitis, food infections (e.g. salmonellosis), diverticulitis and chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Among the reasons external to the gastrointestinal tract responsible for abdominal pain associated with a swollen belly are the premenstrual syndrome, L'endometriosis or the menstrual phase ofovulation, where the pain is usually located in the lower abdomen.

Remedies for a swollen belly

What to do in case of abdominal swelling? The answer depends on the underlying cause. First of all, it is advisable to review your eating habits, before proceeding with in-depth studies aimed at excluding more relevant causes.

If the swollen belly is due to the bad habit of eating improperly, or eating too much or greedily and without chewing well, the first step to take will be to get used to eat slowly and with moderation, in order to reduce the amount of food as well as the amount of air ingested during the meal.

Always for reduce aerophagia involuntary, it is appropriate remove the carbonated drinks, avoid chewing the chewingum, to drink with the drinking straw and of smoking during the meals, which are all habits that lead to abnormally ingesting air.

If you suffer from a known food intolerance, it will be necessary remove from the diet foods to which one is intolerant.
For reduce meteorism Due to intestinal fermentation processes, it is advisable to combine foods correctly, follow a balanced diet and eat fruit between meals as it favors the fermentation of the foods associated with it. If you are overweight, regular physical activity that promotes weight loss can help relieve the feeling of abdominal distension.

A good technique to identify, if present, the foods responsible for an exaggerated production of intestinal gas, is the so-called diet to elimination: once a healthy diet has been established and free of carbonated and sugary drinks, alcohol, coffee, smoke and chewing gum, it will be possible to proceed with the elimination of one basic food at a time, starting from milk is dairy product, followed by legumes, come on vegetables to large leaf, up to starchy foods and gluten-containing foods. It is good to alternate between one elimination and the other at least a week of time, in order to be able to observe with certainty when the symptoms of abdominal swelling and tension begin to improve.

Even fibers, by stimulating intestinal peristalsis and the elimination of gastric material and toxins from the intestinal lumen, represent a valid aid against the meteorism and constipation. Among the main fiber supplements we mention: agar agar, glucomannan, pectin and psyllium seeds. The use of laxatives based heteropolysaccharide (e.g. agar) or di osmotic laxatives based on sugars such as mannitol is lactulose, however, it should be avoided as it promotes swelling and abdominal pain.

If the sensation of a swollen stomach is accompanied by diarrhea secondary to antibiotic therapy, it is advisable to take probiotic supplements (ie the classic lactic ferments) able to favor the engraftment of the symbiont bacterial flora. Probiotics are also useful in cases of gastroenteritis and traveler's diarrhea.

Other natural remedies for belly air are apple, mint and blueberries, which boast anti-fermentative properties, and fennel, which promotes gas expulsion.

In the most severe and persistent cases, the doctor may prescribe some pharmacological remedies to relieve abdominal swelling; among the most used medicines are parasympathetic-mimetic ones - such as betanenchol (Myocholine) - which, by promoting peristalsis, help to accelerate the expulsion of gases from the intestine, and the so-called "antifoam" drugs, such as dimethicone which is effective in the treatment of meteorism.

Thanks to its ability to absorb excess air, the charcoal it is the most used natural remedy to treat swollen belly, in addition to exerting a very mild disinfect action, retaining a part of the intestinal bacterial flora. This product, also called activated carbon, obtained from the dust deriving from some woods, has antitoxic and adsorbent power, and is also used in cases of intoxication by certain types of substances and in the preparation for some tests, such as ultrasound of the abdomen, in which excessive meteorism could compromise the quality of the images.

If, despite the various remedies adopted, the symptom persists, it will be necessary to contact your doctor to investigate the possibility of an underlying pathology.

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2 Comments
  1. Vincenzo 3 years ago

    Thanks! I have read several articles on this topic, but I find this really well written, immediately understandable and exhaustive! Congratulations and thanks again!

  2. I drive 3 years ago

    I'm at the beginning but it seems explanatory to me

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