Who does not know it, after a particularly sumptuous meal, the stomach rumbles and rumbles. The abdomen is bloated and painful. What may sound banal at first is a serious problem for many people. Babies and pregnant women in particular are often plagued by it.
In this article we explain why a bloated stomach develops and what you should consider. Finally, we give you valuable tips and tricks with which you can treat your bloated stomach.
the essentials in brief
- Various causes can lead to bloating. Certain foods in the meal are often responsible for this. Women are often affected during the menstrual cycle and early in pregnancy.
- The mental state can be the reason for a bloated stomach. If you're feeling stressed and anxious, you can treat your bloating with relaxation. Yoga, meditation, relaxation exercises, tea and hot water bottles can be useful.
- A conscious change in diet, exercise, abdominal massage and drinking tea are ways to make a bloated stomach more bearable. There are also medicines on the market.
Background: What you should know about the bloated stomach
A bloated stomach is uncomfortable and disturbs in every situation. Here we explain the most frequently asked questions about the bloated stomach for you. So you know in advance what you should pay special attention to and how you can prevent a bloated stomach.
How do I recognize a bloated stomach?
The bloating (meteorism) can often be recognized by the unusually wide bulge of the abdomen. The abdomen expands because too much air has accumulated in the abdomen, which the body cannot dissipate sufficiently naturally (by belching, passing intestinal wind or exhaling the air we breathe).
Symptoms such as frequent belching, a feeling of fullness, stomach pressure and pain, usually in the upper abdomen, are typically associated with the bloated stomach. Intestinal noises, increased passing of intestinal wind (flatulence), stool irregularities, for example constipation can be caused by a bloated stomach.
What can a bloated stomach indicate?
In most cases, a bloated stomach, while uncomfortable, is harmless. It is very often related to diet (2.3">. For example, fiber that is healthy for the intestines can put a heavy strain on it. Other food-related triggers for bloating can be:
- Fructose intolerance: It is estimated that almost every third European is affected by this intolerance. If the body cannot completely break down the fructose contained in food, this can lead to flatulence.
- Lactose intolerance: The lack of the digestive enzyme lactase means that the milk sugar (lactose) cannot be broken down in the small intestine. Instead, the lactose ferments in the colon, causing bloating.
- Celiac disease (gluten-sensitive enteropathy): Celiac disease describes the intolerance of the small intestine to gluten. Gluten is found in wheat, spelt, original spelled and unripe spelt. Contains barley, rye and oats.
In addition to nutritional reasons, a bloated stomach can also be triggered by emotional tension. Anxiety and stress can put a strain on the stomach and intestines, leading to a bloated stomach.
In addition to relatively harmless reasons, a bloated stomach can also be a symptom of serious illnesses.
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine
- short bowel syndrome
- irritable bowel syndrome
- gastric paralysis
- intestinal paralysis
- Portal vein hypertension
- cardiac insufficiency
- colon cancer
If you notice any irregularities in addition to a bloated stomach and you feel unwell, you should see a doctor.
What are the reasons for a bloated stomach in a woman?
It is not uncommon for women to experience abdominal bloating just before and during their period (1). One reason for bloating is hormones. With the start of the second half of the cycle, more progesterone (also called the corpus luteum hormone) is formed. This hormone is used to break down the uterine lining. As a side effect, the gastrointestinal tract becomes a little more sluggish than usual. This sluggishness can then lead to increased flatulence and a bloated lower abdomen.
At the beginning of pregnancy, the progesterone level also increases. For this reason, there are many women who complain of a bloated stomach during this phase.
Is a bloated stomach normal during pregnancy?
Every woman's pregnancy is different. At the beginning of pregnancy, it is not uncommon for a bloated stomach to form. The hormone progesterone slows digestion, which can lead to bloating. It usually gets better as the pregnancy progresses.
In the early stages of pregnancy, a bloated abdomen is more common. This is not unusual and is normally harmless. (Image source: unsplash / Ignacio Campo)
What should you watch out for in a baby with a bloated stomach?
Babies are plagued by flatulence, especially in the first three months of life. This flatulence can develop into painful abdominal cramps, the so-called 3-month colic.
If the baby is distracted while breastfeeding, there is a risk of swallowing too much air.
Gas in babies comes from swallowing too much air. This danger is particularly high if the baby is constantly distracted or restless while drinking. Therefore, when breastfeeding, ensure a quiet environment so that your baby can drink in peace.
Are there foods that lead to bloating?
Not every person tolerates every food equally well. Certain foods are considered particularly flatulent (2.3">.
- Cabbage (white cabbage, red cabbage, etc.)
- Legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans, etc.)
- greasy food
- very sweet foods
- Foods with sugar substitutes
If you are generally prone to flatulence and a bloated stomach, you should avoid these foods or eat them in moderation.
What can I do about a bloated stomach?
If you feel a bloated stomach, you should avoid eating foods that are difficult to digest and flatulent. Eating in small portions and chewing thoroughly helps to relieve the gastrointestinal tract.
Gentle movements after a meal are also beneficial for digestion. A walk is particularly suitable for this. If you feel stressed, you can counteract it with meditation or relaxation exercises, for example.
Sport stimulates digestion and helps against a bloated stomach.
Another option is to treat the bloating with home remedies or medication. Combined treatments have the greatest chance of success. Studies have shown that therapeutic approaches involving diet, dietary changes, probiotics, and medications usually improve symptoms of bloating (10,11).
When is a bloated stomach dangerous?
If, in addition to the bloated stomach, you notice other irregularities such as suddenly changed stool characteristics, such as persistently soft or frequent bowel movements, you should be warned. Weight loss coupled with flatulence can also be dangerous. In these cases, do not hesitate to consult your doctor.
Bloating: what you can do about it
After we have clarified the most important questions about the bloated stomach, we want to show you what you can do about it. On the one hand, we have put together tips for you to help you prevent an unpleasant bloated stomach. We also show you how you can cure bloating.
We recommend that you treat your bloated stomach with home remedies as a first step. If it doesn't get better, medication can be a good idea. Due to possible side effects of such drugs, we advise you to consult a doctor beforehand in this case.
Pay attention to the diet
In most cases, diet is a trigger or aggravator of the bloated stomach. For this reason, you can effectively counteract bloating by paying attention to your diet.
Even if there are differences in food tolerance between different people: experience has shown that certain foods lead to increased flatulence.
- Cabbage (white cabbage, red cabbage, etc.)
- Legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans, etc.)
- greasy food
- very sweet foods
- Foods with sugar substitutes (7)
In addition to the food itself, the way it is prepared also plays a role. For example, raw onions are more flatulent than cooked ones.
Carbonated drinks / alcohol
If you have a bloated stomach, you should avoid carbonated drinks. Carbonated mineral water and cola put additional stress on the stomach and are therefore counterproductive. You should also avoid alcohol, because it also puts a strain on the overworked stomach. Instead, drink still water or, even better, a cup of warm tea.
A cup of warm tea not only tastes good, it can also help against bloating. (Image source: unsplash / Andriyko Podilnyk)
Research also shows that alcohol has positive effects on intestinal health. A study has shown that red wine can contribute to an improved intestinal flora (8).
Reduce stress & do sports
In addition to nutrition, the emotional state can also hit the stomach and cause a bloated stomach. Exercise, yoga and meditation can help calm your body. There is scientific evidence that exercise has a positive effect on digestion (4) Make time to exercise regularly. This doesn't have to be crazy, just walking helps digestion.
There are various home remedies that counteract the bloated stomach and make it more bearable.
- Tea: A warm cup of tea relaxes and soothes the tummy. Whether you drink fennel tea, chamomile tea or black tea is irrelevant. A study also showed that green tea can help reduce stress and have a relaxing effect (9).
- Hot water bottle: Put a hot water bottle on your stomach. The heat helps relax the abdomen and relieves gas.
- Abdominal massage: With an abdominal massage you can stimulate digestion and relieve pain. Nourishing oils such as jojoba oil or almond oil are suitable for this.
- Ginger: Ginger has a relaxing effect on the intestinal muscles, which reduces gas and bloating (5). You can either chew a fresh piece of ginger or make a tea out of it.
- Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar has an antibacterial effect, which curbs the putrefactive bacteria in the intestine and stimulates the production of gastric juice. Add 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to lukewarm water and sweeten the mixture with honey as needed.
- Wet wraps: To relax the gastrointestinal tract, you can make warm, wet wraps. Make sure you don't burn yourself on the wrap and that it feels comfortable.
It is best to try out the various home remedies for yourself. This way you can find out what is most comfortable for you and works best for your body.
There are various medicines and medicines available in pharmacies to treat flatulence and bloated stomachs. You can choose between herbal remedies and chemical agents. Consult your doctor and get advice.
A bloated stomach is always uncomfortable, but it can also cause severe pain. Even babies can be affected by a bloated stomach in their first few months. Fortunately, in most cases, bloating is harmless.
If you pay attention to certain things when eating and drinking, you can do valuable prevention on your body. Sport is also useful to prevent a bloated stomach. If you are affected by bloating, you have several options to relieve the pain. There are numerous home remedies to help you with this.
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