Abdominal bloating is a pathological condition which results in the intestinal accumulation of large quantities of gas. Main symptoms: abdominal pain, gurgling stomach and swelling. This happens for various reasons: poor nutrition, ingestion of air, chronic inflammation of the digestive organs. Abdominal bloating can be treated by proper diet, adjusting enzyme deficiency and the use of certain medication.
Abdominal bloating is felt when the intestines accumulate large quantities of gas. The intestine always contains certain amounts of fluids, solid materials and a little gas. Gas is a normal component of the intestinal system, but only to a certain amount. For example, an adult human intestine normally contains up to 200 ml of gas. These quantities are released during digestion throughout the day and do not cause discomfort. Gas accumulates in the gut due to three main reasons:
1. Ingestion of air with food. Most of it is let out through belching. Smokers, people who like chewing gum or drink carbonated beverages ingest more air.
2. Intestinal gas occurs due to the activity of the intestinal flora.
3. Gas diffusion from the blood to the gut causes intestines to accumulate higher concentrations of nitrogen.
Stomach (abdominal) bloating occurs for the following reasons:
Ingestion of large amounts of air with the food. Firstly, air enters the stomach and then the gut. If you talk while you are eating, you tend to swallow more air. Gas accumulation in the digestive system is also caused by soft drinks.
Products that are high in fiber, such as cabbage, legumes, apples and black bread can increase the activity of intestinal bacteria which break down undigested food, leading to production of gas.
Intestinal dysbacteriosis can be another reason for increased gas formation. There are a number of beneficial microorganisms normally present in our intestines. Those microorganisms protect us by preventing the occurrence of harmful microorganisms. When the body’s defense function is weakened, harmful types of microorganisms which decompose the food, start to multiply. This results in the increased production of gas, which, moreover, has a strong and unpleasant odor because it contains methane, hydrogen sulphide and ammonia.
Frequent abdominal bloating can occur due to a lack of digestive enzymes. In this case you may feel bloating right after eating.
Stomach (abdominal) bloating can occur when bowel movements are disturbed, although the intestine is still anatomically intact. Then, abdominal bloating can be accompanied by abdominal pain and sometimes even diarrhea or constipation.
Excessive bloating can also happen due to liver cirrhosis.
Intestinal obstruction, tumors and polyps can also interfere with normal gas depletion and cause bloating.
If the bloating is recurrent or lasts for a long time, you should seek medical advice. Bloating can be caused by such diseases as: intestinal dysbacteriosis, gastritis, stomach ulcers, pancreatitis, chronic liver or bowel disease, gastric irritation syndrome.
Bloating must be treated in accordance to its cause. If you feel bloated because you swallow lots of air that means you must adjust your eating habits accordingly: stop smoking, chewing gum or limit carbonated drinks. If bloating is due to the indigestion of fiber, eat more frequently but in smaller portions and chew well. Leguminous vegetables, garlic and cabbage should be eaten steamed or boiled as they will be easier to digest.
If you feel bloated because of an enzyme deficiency, enzyme-containing medicine is used every time after a meal.
When abdominal bloating is accompanied by chronic digestive system or liver diseases, those diseases should be treated first.
If flatulence occurs episodically, you can try some simple home-made medicine:
– Crush 15 g of cumin, fennel and anise. Pour two teaspoons of the mixture with 250 ml of hot water and leave for 10 minutes. Filter and drink unsweetened.
– Crush cumin and coriander. Take half a teaspoon with water before the meal.
– Sandalwood has been known to inhibit bloating, too. Dissolve 20 g of sandal in 250 ml of chamomile tea. Drink a cup daily.
– Abdominal pain can be reduced by heat. Put a bag full of cherry pits or wheat grains into the oven or microwave, heat it and place it on the stomach.