It's one of the most uncomfortable feelings. Almost everyone knows it and at worst it is really painful and lasts for a while. We are talking about air in the stomach or in other words: a bloated stomach. It doesn't matter whether it's in the morning after breakfast or in the evening after dinner. Air in the stomach is uncomfortable both at bedtime and at the start of the day.
In this article we will explain to you what air in the stomach actually is. You find out where she comes from. You will also receive information on how to prevent air in your stomach and what you can do when it is already too late.
the essentials in brief
- Air in the stomach can have many different triggers. It can be caused by pregnancy, a previous operation or simply by poor nutrition.
- Flatulence is only a result of air in the stomach, pain and cramps as well as shortness of breath can also be associated with air in the stomach.
- There are a few ways to prevent air in the stomach in advance. If there is already an accumulation of air in the abdomen, natural methods or medication can help you.
Definition: What is air in the abdomen?
Sure, you certainly know what air is and also what the stomach is. But do you also know what one is talking about when one says that one has air in one's stomach? Your belly, also known as the abdomen, is made up of three parts. So when you talk about your stomach, you could mean your abdominal wall, abdominal cavity, or viscera.(1) Within these components are your stomach, small intestine, large intestine, appendix, pancreas, spleen, liver, gallbladder, and kidneys. (2)
If more air accumulates in your stomach, this is happening in your gastrointestinal tract. Some then also speak of a classic “bloating”. Your stomach is then clearly visibly bloated and usually hard. But it does not necessarily require a bloated belly. You can also have air in your stomach without the bloating.(3,4)
There can be many different reasons for the accumulation of gases in your gastrointestinal tract. Some of these origins are explained to you in the later section of this article.
Background: What you should know about air in your stomach
You now know that abdominal gas is a buildup of gases in your gastrointestinal tract. But how is the air in the stomach created? What are the consequences of having air in your stomach and how can you avoid having air in your stomach?
We answer these questions in this section.
What reasons can there be air in the stomach?
If you have a bloated stomach, it can have many causes. A food intolerance, stress or an unhealthy diet can promote the formation of air in the abdomen. But these are just a few examples of the reasons for air in the stomach. In this section of the article, we explain the four most common causes of gas in the stomach.
You hear it very often. Women who are pregnant tend to have gas in their stomachs. The trigger for this is, on the one hand, the increasing pressure from the growing uterus. On the other hand, the hormonal changes in the body cause increased gas formation in the gastrointestinal tract.(3)
The hormone progesterone ensures that the muscle layer of the intestinal wall relaxes. The intestines then work more slowly, which means that more air can collect in the gastrointestinal tract during the digestion process. This process results in the classic bloated stomach.(5)
Pregnancy changes a lot in life. Unfortunately, pregnancy also affects your digestion. It often happens that pregnant women have more air in their stomachs. (Image source: Freestocks / Unsplash)
A change in diet also promotes the accumulation of air in the abdomen. Especially at the beginning of pregnancy, women change their diet and pay attention to a healthy lifestyle . Switching to whole grain products, fruit and vegetables can therefore also cause air in the stomach.
When something in your abdomen needs surgery, the surgeons usually open your abdominal cavity. Air is pumped into the abdominal cavity by a machine so that there is enough visibility and space to operate during the procedure. The surgical procedure is then performed and then everything is sewn up.
It is quite possible that free air can remain in the abdominal cavity after the operation. The air can even exist there for up to two weeks until you have absorbed it through the intestinal wall and breathed it out bit by bit. A feeling of bloating and pressure is then typical. But this should go away when you exhale the air.(6)
Everyone should be aware that nutrition is a huge factor influencing physical well-being. A "wrong" diet can also cause increased air in the stomach. These foods can promote air in the stomach:
- Lemonades and sparkling mineral water
- milk drinks
- different types of cabbage such as white cabbage and broccoli
- animal proteins and protein preparations
Not only foods that cause flatulence or foods that are not individually well tolerated, but also soft drinks and mineral water with carbonic acid, fruit juices and milk drinks can lead to an accumulation of air in the stomach.
High-fiber foods such as various types of cabbage, legumes or bananas are also considered to be particularly bloating.(7) A diet that focuses on an excess of proteins such as animal proteins also promotes accumulation of air in the abdomen. The proteins are usually only insufficiently digested, which is why putrefaction occurs, which in turn causes flatulence .(8)
Different types of cabbage are often the reason for a bloated stomach. (Image source: Adolfio Felix / Unsplash)
You should also pay attention to a balanced distribution of your food in order to avoid increased air accumulation in the stomach. Dividing your meals into five equal portions throughout the day will help significantly to prevent gas in the stomach.(9)
In addition to an unbalanced diet, food intolerance can also cause air in the stomach. A food intolerance means that certain food components cannot be broken down due to an enzyme deficiency or an enzyme defect. The resulting fermentation processes cause air to accumulate in the gastrointestinal tract. The table below shows you some types of food intolerance(10,11).
|food intolerance||Caused||food example|
|lactose intolerance||lactase deficiency||milk|
|histamine intolerance||diamine oxidase deficiency||mackerel|
|fructose intolerance||Glut-5 transporter overload||bananas|
|gluten intolerance||Histocompatibility antigens(12)||wheat bread|
If you have the feeling that you have more gas in your stomach from a certain food, you should visit your family doctor and talk to him about it.
Unfortunately, mental stress such as stress and nervousness often cause unhealthy eating habits. You start to eat faster, even gobble up food or eat one-sided food.
We have already explained that an unbalanced diet can cause air in the stomach. But what air in the stomach and a fast way of eating have nothing to do with each other. The problem with eating quickly is that you end up swallowing a lot of air while eating.(13) All the air you swallow then collects in your gastrointestinal tract and you get a feeling of fullness and bloating. (14.15)
What are the consequences of air in the stomach?
Having air in your stomach from time to time is completely normal and nothing to worry about at first. Below you will find out the consequences of having air in your stomach.
bloating and belching
The most common consequence of excessive air in the stomach is bloating or constant belching. But there is no reason to worry! Letting the excess air out of the gastrointestinal tract through belching or bloating is perfectly normal. Bloating and belching can be early signs of stomach dysfunction. Most of the time, too much was simply expected of the digestive organ.(13,16)
pain and cramps
Air in the stomach can lead to a bloated stomach, which is only noticeable through a larger abdominal circumference. Depending on how much air you have in your stomach and the origin of the accumulation, your stomach will become very hard.
If you have a large accumulation of air in your abdomen, sooner or later you will feel pain. Depending on the severity, these can also lead to cramps .(17)
Air in the stomach can not only cause unpleasant flatulence. If there is a large accumulation of air in the abdomen, severe pain or even cramps can occur. (Image Source: Benjamin Combs / Unsplash)
Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
If air collects in your abdomen, it doesn't necessarily have to be in the lower abdomen. Overuse can also be affected. Some of the above causes can bring about the accumulation in the upper abdomen.
This accumulation can in turn be the reason for breathing difficulties and shortness of breath. How are these two factors related? Due to the bloated upper abdomen, it is not possible to breathe all the way down into the abdomen. Therefore, the chest is pulled upwards unnoticed by the neck muscles.
This type of breathing allows only a small part of the lungs to be filled with air. So because you only fill your lungs with new air very little, you have to breathe in and out more often. This fact is then often perceived as breathing difficulties and/or shortness of breath.(18,19)
nausea and heartburn
Unfortunately, if there is too much air in the stomach, you often have stomach pains. This stomach pain is often accompanied by heartburn. Heartburn, in turn, can make you feel nauseous quite quickly. However, you shouldn't panic about it.
Your stomach could simply be acidic due to irritation of the gastric mucosa. This very often leads to heartburn and nausea. With a bit of patience and stomach-friendly food, this can be calmed down relatively quickly.(20)
You can treat all of the listed consequences yourself or with the help of your trusted pharmacy. However, if you have a certain regularity or have very severe pain, we recommend that you consult your family doctor.
How to avoid air in the stomach?
You now know what causes air in your stomach. In principle, you already know how to avoid air in your stomach. So that you don't have to read everything again, we have listed below a table with the most important tips for avoiding air in your stomach.
|Eat multiple meals||Instead of two to three large meals a day, you should eat up to five smaller meals throughout the day.(14:21)|
|Eat slowly||Take your time and enjoy your meals. You should also speak little while eating and chew your food well. This means that no additional air gets into your stomach. In addition, by chewing well, the food can already be digested in the mouth with the help of the saliva.(9,22)|
|waiver||If you know that certain foods cause more air to collect in your stomach, you'd better avoid them.(21,22)|
|Right spices||The right spices can also help to prevent flatulence and indigestion. Spices like aniseed, marjoram, cumin and coriander promote digestion.(22)|
|Regular exercise||Exercise stimulates digestion. It is therefore only logical that regular exercise can prevent excessive air build-up. (23)|
Of course, if you have air in your stomach after an operation, then this cannot be avoided. Influencing the hormone progesterone during pregnancy is also unavoidable. Our tips are therefore limited to your diet.
Air in the stomach: The best tips to remove the air in the stomach
You now know where the accumulation of air in the abdomen can come from. But what if you want to get rid of them? In this section of the article, we'll explain how you can do this.
Natural remedies against air in the abdomen
There are a lot of natural ways to help expel the air in your abdomen faster. We have listed some of them for you below.
- abdominal massages
Massage your stomach clockwise to stimulate your digestion. It helps to push the air further in the abdomen. Of course, the pressure you exert shouldn't cause pain. Therefore, exercise the abdominal massage with a pressure that is beneficial for you.(23)
Heat helps a lot with many ailments. Same with air in the stomach. Take a warm bath or put a hot water bottle / a warm cherry stone pillow on your stomach. You will notice that after a few minutes you will feel much better.(24,25)
Teas made from various medicinal plants can have a bloating effect and allow the air in the stomach to escape. These include teas made from anise, caraway, sage, ginger or chamomile. You can find out how to prepare the respective teas in your pharmacy, tea shop or on the packaging.(17,23)
Liquid should be drunk in sufficient quantity. Not only tea but also still water can support the digestion process and make the work of your gastrointestinal tract much easier.(24,25)
Exercise is digestive. You have already read that in this article. Regular exercise can basically prevent air in the abdomen. But if you suddenly have a lot of air in your stomach, a long walk can work wonders.(21,26)
Even a warm tea made from ginger or chamomile can have a deflating effect and declare war on the air in your stomach. (Image Source: John Mark Smith / Unsplash)
Medicines for air in the abdomen
If the natural methods against the acute air in the abdomen do not help, you can also resort to medication. Both over-the-counter and prescription-only medicines are available in pharmacies. Here we present three remedies from the pharmacy.
The active ingredients dimethicone (polydimethylsiloxane) or simethicone reduce the surface tension of the foam bubbles. The flatulent gases are trapped in the foam bubbles. These can then be reabsorbed by the body through the intestinal tract. (22)
The defoamers do not get into the blood. They have a purely physical effect and should be taken with meals or in the evening before bed.
If you can't properly digest foods that contain fat, protein, or carbohydrates, it could be due to a lack of digestive enzymes. Medications can help absorb the missing enzymes. This avoids bloating. You should clarify with your doctor whether and if so which enzymes are not being produced enough in your case. He will then also recommend you a suitable drug with the right enzymes.(21,22)
If your abdominal pain is so severe that you're cramping, antispasmodic medication can help. Active ingredients such as butylscopolamine, mebeverine or trospium chloride are the main components of the antispasmodic agents. They help to relax the intestinal muscles again. Some of these drugs require a prescription.(22)
Which medicine you should choose in which situation is best discussed with the pharmacy staff or your family doctor. This is the only way to get the most effective solution.
You have now read what air in the stomach is and that not only flatulence is a result of air accumulation in the stomach. A balanced diet, several snacks and regular exercise are essential for a healthy body feeling. Not only can you do something good for your body weight, you can also counteract the feeling of fullness and the air in your stomach.
If you often suffer from gas in your stomach despite a healthy diet and sufficient exercise, you now know that a food intolerance can be the source of your illness. You should then talk to your GP about it. In addition, you have also read what pregnancy and air in the stomach have to do with it and the connection between the two circumstances. Take care of yourself and your body, it usually always tells you when something is wrong.
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