What causes bloating?

Written by: Top Doctors®
Edited by: Top Doctors®

Intestinal gas in the stomach can cause swelling of the abdomen and excessive belching and flatulence leaving patients with a bloated stomach and in pain. The amount of gas that remains inside the digestive tract is the amount that enters minus what comes out.

Where does excess gas come from?

Digestive gas comes from what we eat and drink. There are particular foods that are known to especially cause gas pain and flatulence. Then, there is also intestinal gas produced in the digestive tract itself during the reaction of stomach acids with other substances.


Common causes of excess gas:

Bloating is caused by excessive air swallowing, medically called aerophagia. It’s natural to swallow some air by breathing, talking or eating. And, a lot more air is swallowed when we are nervous, when we eat too fast, when we chew badly or when we breathe through our mouth. Smoking, chewing gum or eating candy greatly increases the amount of air accumulated. There are also certain food and drink which can wreak havoc on the stomach. 


Foods that cause a bloated stomach:

  • Legumes – white beans, lentils, chickpeas
  • Drinks that contain gas – soft drinks, beer, cava
  • Wheat
  • Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables – cabbage, Brussels sprouts
  • Onions
  • Dairy products – milk, cheese, yogurt, butter
  • Apples
  • Garlic

Bloating remedies:

  • Hot water with a slice of lemon
  • Celery
  • Watermelon
  • Rosemary and turmeric

Additionally, in certain diseases and conditions, the intestine is unable to absorb some sugars, so that a significant amount of gas produced comes from the intestine itself. This would be the case of patients with celiac disease, or where the body is deficient in absorbing lactose or suffers the malabsorption of sugars.

How is intestinal gas eliminated?

The gas is not only expelled by belching or through flatulence, it is also absorbed along the digestive tract, and passes into the blood. Sometimes the gas can be retained, causing swelling, because bowel movements are too slow. This happens in some cases of constipation. This does not happen to everyone as some of us have a more sensitive intestine, whilst others are more robust

It’s also beneficial to get enough sleep and at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day to keep the fluid moving in the body. If sitting at a desk all day, make sure to move the legs or take a short walk around the office every hour. If your bloating is becoming a chronic problem, consult a gastroenterologist.


By Topdoctors

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