Bloating is an abnormal swelling of the abdominal area that results from excess of gas in the gastrointestinal tract and dilatation of the intestine. Patients suffering from bloating commonly complain about the feeling of fullness and tight abdomen. In severe cases the person may suffer from abdominal pain. It is estimated that around 16% of all people in the United States deal with bloating. The problems develop due to different medical conditions and a variety of factors.
Bloating and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional bowel disorder associated with chronic abdominal pain, bloating discomfort and changes in bowel habits. Bloating is a common symptom of this condition and occurs from time to time. It is not possible to set the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome only after investigating patient's medical history and symptoms/signs they complain about. It is essential to perform several more tests and exams and rule out other gastrointestinal disorders.
Bloating and Malapsorption Syndrome
People suffering from lactose intolerance, celiac disease and other food intolerances almost always have problems with bloating and abdominal distension. These problems develop as a consequence of inability to break down certain foods. Such improperly digested food is a cause of excess of gas in the intestine and subsequent bloating.
Bloating and Pregnancy
It is common for a woman to complain about bloating during pregnancy. Together with nausea bloating represents the most unpleasant symptom a pregnant woman has to deal with. Bloating generally develops during the first and the third trimester and is associated with hormonal changes. Namely, increased amounts of progesterone lead to relaxation of muscles (including gastrointestinal muscles) and this way the very process of digestion becomes much slower. This allows gas to accumulate in the intestine. Bloating particularly occurs after large meals. Still, apart from hormonal changes bloating in pregnancy also develops due to enlargement of the uterus as well as consumption of gassy foods.
Bloating and Ovarian Cysts
Yet another cause of bloating are the ovarian cysts. For example fluid filled cysts commonly develop during the process of ovulation and they may cause many symptoms such as irregular bleeding, pain during defecation and pelvic pain. Bloating is another symptom these growths are able to induce.
Bloating and Menopause
Bloating is a frequent complain among menopausal women. It develops due to fluid retention (excess of estrogen) and an increased susceptibility to gas accumulation. Time wise, the actual length of the symptom differs and while some women only deal with bloating lasting for a few days in others the symptoms may linger for up to several months.