What Bloating and Abdominal Pain Could Really Mean

Bloating and Abdominal Pain
A bloated stomach is a very uncomfortable feeling that can be quite embarrassing when it is accompanied by excessive, smelly gas or the sudden need to run to the toilet. Abdominal bloating may also interfere with your professional, recreational, or social life.

Abdominal pain and bloating typically results when the gastrointestinal (GI) tract fills with gas or air. It is often described as a feeling of fullness, tightness, or swollenness in the abdominal region. The abdomen may also feel hard and painful to the touch. Other common signs of abdominal bloating include frequent belching or burping, and abdominal gurgles or rumbling.
Bloated stomach abdominal pain is so common that some even classify it as an epidemic, since it affects 10% to 30% of people. Stress, exposure to various pollutants, and a poor diet are among the causes of abdominal bloating. As a result, people with abdominal bloating take more days off work, take more medications, and visit the doctor more often than others.
Read on to learn more about the signs and symptoms of abdominal bloating, as well as when to see a doctor and what natural remedies help treat abdominal pain and bloating. We will also analyze the many potential causes of abdominal bloating, which include constipation, acid reflux, upset stomach, and more.

Signs and Symptoms of Abdominal Bloating

Abdominal pain and bloating are considered two different symptoms. That being said, you are likely to feel both at the same time. These symptoms refer to the ache or distention felt under the gastral cavity and above your pubic bone, also called the lower and upper abdominal regions.
It’s important to note that a bloated stomach is not related to gaining fat mass around the stomach or water retention. It is mainly caused by air being temporarily stuck around the abdomen.
You may experience the following signs and symptoms alongside the gassiness, fullness, and stomach pain of abdominal bloating:
Signs of an allergic reaction (i.e. itchy throat, hives or skin rashes, watery eyes)
  • A fever
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or difficulty going to the bathroom
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bloody stool or urine
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Brain fog
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular periods
  • Swollen, painful lymph nodes in your throat, armpits, or groin

Causes of Bloating and Abdominal Pain

In some cases, abdominal pain and bloating are not a cause for concern and can often be relieved with simple dietary and lifestyle changes. Other times, abdominal bloating can be a sign of something more serious, and therefore further action is needed to treat the root of the problem.
Bloating is often a problem with digestion, and many things can affect gut health and the body’s ability to properly metabolize food and eliminate waste.
Gas is thought to be the most common cause of bloating, especially after eating a meal or drinking too fast. Gas builds up in the GI tract when you swallow air or when undigested food gets broken down.
Excessive gas is due to inadequate protein digestion, imbalances in gut bacteria, and the inability to fully break down carbohydrates and sugar.
This section will detail 32 potential causes of abdominal bloating and pain, which are often related to digestive disorders, food sensitivities, parasitic infections, bowel obstruction, hormonal changes like pregnancy, and a number of cancers like stomach cancer, ovarian cancer, or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Let’s get started.

1. Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is a digestive condition in which the body is unable to digest lactose—the sugar often found in milk and dairy products. Symptoms include abdominal pain and bloating, gas, diarrhea, stomach rumbling, nausea, vomiting, and migraines and headaches.
The symptoms will develop within a few hours of consuming drinks or foods that contain lactose, and the severity will depend on personal tolerance and how much lactose has been consumed.
It is also worth noting that not all dairy products cause unpleasant symptoms. For instance, kefir or yogurt contains active cultures that help break down lactose prior to consumption.

2. Acid Reflux

Acid reflux also called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and heartburn, is a pain or burning sensation caused by acid backing up from the stomach and into the esophagus and the throat.
The condition can result from pregnancy, hiatal hernias, an unhealthy diet, carbohydrate malabsorption, an underdeveloped digestive system, smoking cigarettes, and taking certain medications like antibiotics or ibuprofen and supplements like iron or potassium.
Symptoms include heartburn, nausea, black stools, a bitter taste in the mouth, unexpected weight loss, pain that starts in the upper abdomen and spreads to the neck or throat, and abdominal pain after eating.

3. Constipation

Constipation is an uncomfortable problem where a person has difficulty emptying their bowels. Hard or difficult to pass stools are a key sign of constipation due to slower-than-normal movement of food waste in the GI tract.
A person also has constipation when they produce fewer than three bowel movements per week.
Constipation is among the most common causes of severe abdominal bloating and abdominal pain. Other symptoms include bowel obstruction, vomiting, gas, appetite loss, and malaise.

4. Intestinal Obstruction

In normal digestion, food particles must travel through 25 feet or more of intestines.
Although digestive wastes are always in motion, an intestinal obstruction can stop normal digestion when there is a blockage in your small or large intestine. This prevents fluids and digested food from passing.
Intestinal obstruction will cause a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, including abdominal pain and bloating, constipation, diarrhea, severe abdominal cramps, abdominal swelling, nausea, vomiting, a reduced appetite, and the inability to pass a stool or gas.
The condition is considered life-threatening, and emergency surgery is therefore required.

5. Dyspepsia or Upset Stomach

Dyspepsia is also called upset stomach or indigestion. It is a condition characterized by a painful or burning feeling in the upper abdominal region or stomach.
The most common dyspepsia symptoms include abdominal pain and bloating, cramping in the stomach, a “growling” stomach, nausea and vomiting, gas and belching, constipation, diarrhea, and a burning sensation in the stomach or upper abdomen.

6. Viral Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu)

The stomach flu is also called the gastric flu or viral gastroenteritis. It is caused by a number of viruses, including the enterovirus, astrovirus, norovirus, and rotavirus.
It is contagious and often transmitted through water contamination, improper hand washing, and the consumption of undercooked or raw shellfish.
Most people will recover without complications; however, the stomach flu can be deadly in others with weak immune systems and in some older adults.
The most common symptoms include abdominal pain and bloating, cramps, nausea and vomiting, watery diarrhea, appetite loss, headaches, mild fever, and muscle aches with fatigue.

7. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a condition that occurs a week or two before a woman’s expected period. It impacts up to 85% of menstruating women and produces a wide range of psychological and physiological symptoms.
The severity of symptoms can vary each month and among different women. The most common PMS symptoms include abdominal pain and abdominal bloating, breast tenderness, constipation, diarrhea, acne, fatigue, irritability, sadness, anxiety, depression, mental confusion, and emotional outbursts.

8. Celiac Disease

Celiac disease, or celiac sprue, is an autoimmune digestive disease triggered by an allergy to a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, couscous, barley, spelt, rye, semolina, and other grains.
The disease is rare and affects about one percent of adults. It will damage the small intestine and interfere with nutrient absorption.
Its symptoms often include abdominal pain and bloating, cramping, diarrhea, constipation, chronic fatigue, anemia or other weight changes, trouble concentrating, sleep problems, chronic headaches, bone or joint pains, seizures, mood changes, dull skin and thinning hair, tingling numbness in the feet and hands, and canker sores inside the mouth.

9. Gluten Intolerance

A person can react to gluten without having celiac disease. This is what is called gluten intolerance or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). These people don’t have celiac disease, yet they feel better when they consume a gluten-free diet.

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