Uncomfortable abdominal bloating stems from a variety of causes, ranging from dietary issues to health problems. Bloating occurs when air and gas build up and press the abdomen out, making your stomach look up to 3 inches larger and feel tight. Over-the-counter products containing simethicone help break up gas, but addressing the actual cause of the condition provides longer-lasting relief.
Identify Food Sensitivities
Food sensitivities to ingredients such as lactose and gluten often cause bloating and abdominal discomfort. Keep track of your diet so you can look back for trigger ingredients and foods when you experience bloating. If you notice the bloating always occurs after eating a certain type of food, try an elimination diet by cutting out the food that contains the offending ingredient. For example, if you bloat after eating dairy products, stop eating any food containing lactose for a few weeks. If the bloating stops during this period, lactose is likely a contributor to your abdominal discomfort. Continue avoiding the ingredient to keep the bloating away.
Limit Gassy Foods
Certain foods are more likely to cause bloating, even if you don't have a sensitivity to it. Fruits and vegetables with certain starches and sugars increase bloating because they are more difficult to digest. The list includes bananas, beans, lentil, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and potatoes. Foods containing artificial sweeteners, carbonation and excess salt also tend to cause bloating. Limit your consumption of these foods to stop stomach bloating. Avoid eating quickly, which causes you to swallow extra air, and overeating for additional bloating relief.
Improve Overall Health
An overall healthy lifestyle allows your body to function properly to reduce symptoms of health problems, such as bloating. Stress is sometimes a cause of bloating, particularly if you swallow air as a nervous habit when feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Relaxation techniques and reducing your stress levels may improve your overall health while reducing bloating. Smoking is an unhealthy habit that contributes to bloating due to the air that you swallow; quitting the habit may help reduce it. A healthy diet and exercise reduce constipation, which often contributes to bloating.
A doctor's visit is sometimes necessary for persistent bloating that doesn't respond to lifestyle changes. An enlarged abdomen sometimes signals a health problem that your doctor needs to diagnose. Possible health conditions with bloating as a symptom include irritable bowel syndrome, ovarian cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, tumors and other problems in the gastrointestinal system, such as a disease or infection. Call your doctor if the bloating doesn't subside or if other symptoms appear, such as pain, vomiting, severe heartburn, unexplained weight fluctuations or changes in your bowel movements.