Bloating is a feeling of fullness or tightness in the abdominal area, often accompanied by abdominal pain.
The most common cause of bloating is the presence of intestinal gas. Other causes include swallowing air as a nervous habit, constipation, and overeating, overweight, bacterial overgrowth in the intestine, fatty foods, irritable bowel syndrome, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, and lactose intolerance (inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in dairy products). Other serious disorders that may cause bloating are ascites, celiac disease, dumping syndrome, ovarian cancer, and pancreatic insufficiency. Certain medications containing acarbose, lactulose or sorbitol may also cause bloating.
If the bloating is caused by excessive intestinal gas, some dietary changes can be extremely beneficial. Avoid gas-producing foods such as beans, cabbage, onions, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, fluffy wheat products such as bread, apples, peaches, pears, prunes, corn, oats, potatoes, milk, ice cream, and soft cheese.
Medications such as activated charcoal tablets may be taken after meals to decrease odour from the gas. Antacids may be taken that will expel gas noisily from the stomach through the mouth. Food enzymes may be added to certain foods that cause you to have gas. These food enzymes help to break down the sugars found in the vegetables and grains.
You may take the following steps to reduce bloating:
- Avoid chewing gum or eating hard candy.
- Drink plenty of water
- Chew food thoroughly to avoid swallowing of air
- Quit smoking
- Eat slowly
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals instead of large meals
- Avoid foods known to cause bloating
- If you are suffering from constipation, it should be treated
- Avoid carbonated drinks and use of alcohol
- If you wear dentures make sure your dentures fit properly