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    Abdominal bloating

    Bloating; Meteorism

    Abdominal bloating is a condition in which the belly (abdomen) feels full and tight. Your belly may look swollen (distended).

    Causes

    Common causes include:

    • Air swallowing (a nervous habit)
    • Constipation
    • Gastroesophageal reflux
    • Irritable bowel syndrome
    • Lactose intolerance and other food intolerances
    • Overeating
    • Small bowel bacterial overgrowth
    • Weight gain

    The diabetes medication acarbose, as well as any medicine containing lactulose or sorbitol, may cause bloating.

    More serious disorders that may cause bloating are:

    • Ascites and tumors
    • Celiac disease
    • Dumping syndrome
    • Ovarian cancer
    • When the pancreas is not able to make enzymes needed for digestion (pancreatic insufficiency)

    Home Care

    You may take the following steps:

    • Avoid chewing gum or carbonated drinks, especially those with high levels of fructose or sorbitol
    • Avoid foods such as Brussels sprouts, turnips, cabbage, beans, and lentils
    • Do not eat too quickly
    • Stop smoking

    If you have constipation, it should be treated. However, fiber supplements such as psyllium or 100% brancan make your symptoms worse.

    You may try simethicone and other medicines you buy at the drugstore to help with gas, but these medications are often not helpful.

    See: Lactose intolerance for more on how to treat this problem.

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your health care provider if you have:

    • Abdominal pain
    • Blood in the stools or dark, tarry looking stools
    • Diarrhea
    • Heartburn that is getting worse
    • Vomiting
    • Weight loss

    References

    Bailey J. FPIN's Clinical Inquiries: Effective management of flatulence. Am Fam Physician. 2009;79:1098-1100.

    Ohge H, Levitt MD. Intestinal gas. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2010:chap 16.

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    • Abdominal ultrasound

      illustration

      • Abdominal ultrasound

        illustration

      A Closer Look

        Self Care

          Tests for Abdominal bloating

            Review Date: 4/17/2012

            Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

            The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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            St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
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