Abdominal bloating is a health condition in which the upper abdomen is gaseous, may be visibly swollen or distended, and feels uncomfortably full. It’s a common complaint among both children and adults, and the symptoms can be difficult to live with. Moreover, it can also be accompanied by burping or belching, pain, excessive gas or flatulence,swallowing of air, and abdominal rumbling.
What Causes Upper Abdominal Bloating?
1. Gas-Inducing Foods
Upper abdominal bloating could be caused by trapped gas in your intestines and stomach. When eating, food is digested in the stomach and enters the small intestines where the enzymes break down the proteins, sugars, carbohydrates and sugars for energy. Gas-inducing foods are more difficult to digest, and can cause gas to build up during the digestive process. The amount of gas that different foods cause may vary from person to person and some examples of gas-producing foods are fried and fatty foods, vegetables such as broccoli, and Brussel sprouts, beans, some fruits, eggs, breads and carbonated or alcoholic drinks.
2. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
A common disorder called irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), affects the large intestine causing upper abdominal bloating and pain. Symptoms can also include diarrhea or constipation, and the condition affects more women than men. Irritable bowel syndrome may also be associated with depression, stress, anxiety, or a previous intestinal infection. The treatment for IBS could include anti-diarrhea medications, fiber supplements, pain medication, and dietary restrictions on gas producing foods.
3. Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is caused by inflammation of the lining of the small intestine that inhibits the body’s ability to digest gluten. Celiac disease sometimes causes people to become malnourished, despite eating what is otherwise a healthy diet. Although the cause of this disease is unknown, the condition is often hereditary.
Symptoms of celiacdisease include indigestion, diarrhea or constipation, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and bloating. This disease may also include unexplained weight loss, and foul-smelling stools. Treatment includes a dietary restriction of gluten free foods, and studies have shown that breastfeeding may play a role protecting against the disease.
4. Lactose Intolerance
Lactase deficiency is the lack of the enzyme lactase in the small intestine, and lactase is needed to digest lactose, a sugar found in dairy products. If you are lactose intolerant, your body is unable to fully digest the sugar in most dairy products. For people who are lactose intolerant the effects are normally harmless, but its symptoms can include uncomfortable gas, diarrhea, upper abdominal bloating, and abdominal pain after eating or drinking dairy products. Treatment for lactose intolerance might include a dietary restriction and synthetic lactase supplements.
Heartburn is a common affliction for most people and is very common in pregnant women. Symptoms include a burning sensation and discomfort that moves up from your stomach to the middle of your abdomen and into your throat.
Other symptoms could include nausea, bloating, belching, and a sour taste in the mouththat may be triggered by lying down within three hours after a meal. Treatment includes prescription and over-the-counter antacid medications used to neutralize stomach acid, or proton pump inhibitors to reduce the stomach’s production of acid. If all else fails, surgery may be required to repair the lower esophageal sphincter.
Dyspepsia more accurately describes a group of symptoms rather than one predominant symptom, and many people will experience some symptoms of this disorder at some point in their lifetime. Symptoms include abdominal bloating and pain, feeling uncomfortably full, heartburn, a loss of appetite, regurgitation, burping, and nausea. This disorder is often associated with other stomach and intestinal disorders and can be aggravated by caffeine, alcohol, or medicines such as aspirin. Treatment includes a change in diet, and eating smaller amounts of food more often during the day.
7. Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of the pancreas. The pancreas produces hormones and digestive juices that regulate blood sugar, and pancreatic cancer symptoms include jaundice, upper abdominal bloating and pain that radiates to the back, poor appetite, and rapid weight loss. Although there are various treatments for pancreatic cancer, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, only about 20% of people diagnosed with the disease are expected to live more than a year.
8. Stomach Cancer
When cancer cells or polyps form in the inner lining of your stomach, and these cells grow into tumors, it is called stomach cancer. The cancer is usually asymptomatic early on, and usually grows slowly over many years.
Symptoms may begin as heartburn, trouble swallowing, indigestion, constipation or diarrhea,nausea, upper abdominal bloating and pain. As the cancer progresses, more serious symptoms may include jaundice, bloody stools, vomiting, and rapid weight loss. Although risk factors include ulcers from an H. pylori infection, treatment can include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
What Can Be Done?
Over-the-counter medications or a prescription from your doctor might help. Look for a medication containing alpha-D-galactosidase. It has an enzyme that breaks down indigestible sugars in vegetables and beans.
Tablets or capsules containing simethicone can also help alleviate symptoms of upper abdominal bloating. If you’re a tobacco user, it’s a good reason to quit because it has been linked to heartburn, bloating, and other digestive problems. Fortunately, bloating is a very common affliction, and most people can find a remedy at the pharmacy. Other measures, such as a change in diet, the frequency and times between meals and a change in habits are all you’ll need to do to avoid bloating.
When to Worry
Usually, temporary bloating is very common and nothing to worry about. However, if the condition persists on a regular basis, or bathroom problems are a constant battle, there might be more serious medical conditions causing your discomfort, so you’ll need to consult your physician. There could be a physical obstruction in the stomach or small intestines, and if diagnosed by your health care provider, may need to be surgically corrected. Many people already know that gas-inducing foods can cause gas, but what most people don’t suspect is an underlying chronic disease or cancer that could also be the cause.