When you’ve got a bloated stomach, your tummy feels full and uncomfortable. Bloating may come on out of nowhere, or it may rumble and gurgle. Almost everyone feels bloating from time-to-time and it’s a very common condition. While it might be uncomfortable, it’s usually not serious.
If you suffer from bloating and want to minimise its impact on your day-to-day life, then read on to learn how to handle that bloated feeling.
In this guide:
Bloating can appear in a few different ways, and you may suffer from one, some, or all these symptoms. Common bloating symptoms include:
- Your tummy feels larger or fuller than usual.
- You experience discomfort or stomach pain.
- Your stomach makes rumbling or gurgling sounds.
- You experience flatulence (passing wind) more often.
- In some instances, bloating can result in distention, or a physical swelling of your abdomen.
What causes bloating?
While there are many things that can result in bloating, the root cause of a bloated stomach is often too much trapped gas being in your gut. An increase in wind can be the result of an issue occurring in the digestive system.
If you’re trying to figure out why you’ve got a bloated stomach, here are some of the most common causes:
Constipation can often be recognised as an inability or infrequency in bowel movements. If you find you’re having less than three bowel movements per week, you could be suffering with constipation.
A food intolerance (e.g., lactose intolerance)
Food intolerances, such as lactose intolerance, can contribute to bloating. Even if you don’t have an intolerance, you may find that certain things in your diet – such as fizzy drinks and some vegetables – make you feel more bloated. It’s always worth considering how your diet impacts your digestive system.
Coeliac disease is a condition that can affect your gut, leading to symptoms of bloating, as well as diarrhoea and abdominal pain. These symptoms are the result of a reaction from your immune system to gluten found in wheat, barely, and rye.
Irritable bowel syndrome
IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is a condition that affects your digestive system. There are many symptoms of IBS, including bloating and stomach cramps. These symptoms can last days to weeks or months, depending on the intensity of your IBS at the time.
During menstrual periods, it’s common to suffer with a bloated stomach. This is thought to be due to hormonal changes in the body, specifically the reduction of oestrogen and progesterone. Alongside this, you may notice diarrhoea and abdominal pain.
How to treat a bloated stomach
While bloating is very common, there are a lot of ways to help alleviate a bloated stomach. However, if you experience bloating more than 12 times a month and your symptoms don’t improve, you should seek advice from a GP or medical professional.
Here are some tips for how to relieve bloating:
When you have a bloated stomach, you may feel as though the last thing you want to do is move. However, going for a brisk walk or jog can reduce that feeling of bloating. That’s because being sedentary in certain positions can retain gas, whereas moving helps to clear it and can also help improve your digestion.
Sit up straight
It may sound simple but adjusting your posture – especially when you’re eating – can help reduce and prevent bloating symptoms. Having good posture helps because your body retains more gas when reclined or lying down. Ensuring you have sufficient support from your seating when working at a desk or relaxing on the sofa can help with this.
Massage your tummy
Giving your stomach a massage from right to left can be an easy way to release trapped wind, reducing bloating symptoms.
If you’re certain your bloating is caused by food, then antacids could help to reduce your symptoms. By allowing gas to pass more easily through your digestive system, antacids effectively reduce the build-up of trapped wind. However, these will not have a great effect if your bloating isn’t caused by food.
The active ingredient simeticone can actively ease the excess build-up of gas in the intestines and ease bloating. This means medication such as IMODIUM® Dual Action can treat bloating symptoms and accompanying pains, if you’re also suffering from diarrhoea.
How to reduce bloating
There are changes you can make to your diet and lifestyle which help reduce bloating and work towards preventing it in the first place
Change your diet
Gas build-up from foods is one of the primary aggravators of a bloated stomach, and your diet can have a significant impact on bloating. Assessing your diet and reducing or removing gas-inducing foods can help stop you from becoming bloated as frequently.
Common dietary aggravators for bloating include:
- Oligosaccharides, often found in wheat, legumes, onions, and garlic.
- Disaccharides, such as lactose found in dairy.
- Monosaccharides, which include fructose, often found in apples, pears, and honey.
- Polyols, which are found in most stone fruits, cauliflower, chewing gum, and candies.
- Processed, fatty, spicy, or sugary foods.
- Fizzy drinks, alcohol, and caffeine.
- Too much fiber is one of the most common reasons for bloating. However, fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet and shouldn’t be avoided completely, as this could lead to constipation and other digestive issues.
In addition to making these changes, drinking plenty of water can help to reduce the impact of bloating.
Regular exercise and posture-correction can help improve your digestion and prevent bloating, resulting in less instances of a bloated stomach. So, try to stay active throughout the day and sit up straight.
Eat slowly and try not to swallow too much air
Eating large portions is a common cause of bloating but eating too quickly can also be an issue, as it takes up to 20 minutes for the body to recognise it’s satiated.
Additionally, swallowing too much air when eating can lead to bloating, with around half the gas in the digestive system being swallowed air. Eating with your mouth closed, slower, and in smaller portions can help prevent bloating.
Don’t eat large meals just before bed
It’s best to avoid eating a big portion before going to sleep. Similar to your posture, being reclined while digesting can result in gas retention which can lead to bloating.