Abdominal bloating is a sensation of fullness, tightness or distention in the abdomen. It is important to note that bloating is different than abdominal swelling where the abdomen is evidently increased in size but both characteristics might be present.
It is important to note that abdominal bloating is common and most cases are not brought about by anything serious. Excessive gas due to irritable bowel syndrome, dietary factors or difficulty absorbing certain foods are the usual causes. If the bloating is severe, prolonged or accompanied by other troublesome symptoms, it is vital to consult a doctor for further assessment.
How is abdominal bloating managed?
The treatment for abdominal bloating usually depends on the underlying cause of the symptoms. The doctor might perform the required tests to rule out other serious conditions. The treatment is focused on a variety of dietary and lifestyle modifications such as:
- Avoidance of any carbonated beverages.
- Avoid foods that are hard to digest or those that cause increased production of gas such as cabbage, Brussel sprouts, lentils and beans.
- Avoid chewing on gum since this promotes the swallowing of more air.
- When selecting sources of fiber, you should be careful. Some individuals with irritable bowel syndrome often require increased amounts of fiber to alleviate the symptoms while certain forms of fiber such as psyllium can worsen bloating.
- Drink fennel tea to help alleviate the symptoms.
- Eat small, frequent meals at a steady pace.
In some individuals, over-the-counter medications such as simethicone and activated charcoal can alleviate the gas symptoms. Remember that these provide limited benefits and might not even be effective for all individuals.