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Abdominal bloating

Bloating; Meteorism

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Causes

Common causes include:

You may have bloating if you take the oral diabetes medicine acarbose. Some other medicines or foods containing lactulose or sorbitol, may cause bloating.

More serious disorders that may cause bloating are:

Definition

Abdominal bloating is a condition in which the belly (abdomen) feels full and tight. Your belly may look swollen (distended).

Home Care

You may take the following steps:

  • Avoid chewing gum or carbonated drinks. Stay away from foods with high levels of fructose or sorbitol.
  • Avoid foods that can produce gas, such as Brussels sprouts, turnips, cabbage, beans, and lentils.
  • Do not eat too quickly.
  • Stop smoking.

Get treatment for constipation if you have it. However, fiber supplements such as psyllium or 100% bran can make your symptoms worse.

You may try simethicone and other medicines you buy at the drugstore to help with gas. Charcoal caps can also help.

Watch for foods that trigger your bloating so you can start to avoid those foods. These may include:

  • Milk and other dairy products that contain lactose
  • Certain carbohydrates that contain fructose, known as FODMAPs

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood in the stools or dark, tarry looking stools
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn that is getting worse
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

Review Date: 4/9/2018
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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