“Bloated stomach” is a very common problem that affects 10-30% of healthy adults. The symptoms may vary from a mild irritating discomfort to a severe significant which can disrupt one’s daily activities.
Each individuals description varies when they explain that they have a “bloated stomach”. Some people feel bloated around the upper abdomen area especially after eating. This is likely related to distension of the stomach after food. Sometimes, bloating is caused by intestinal gas. This is bloatedness more often felt in the region around the umbilicus. Intestinal gas is typically formed by the fermentation of undigested food like fiber in the colon. Constipation worsens bloating as the food waste remains longer in the colon which increases fermentation. Gases are also formed from certain food components, such as gluten or sugars in fruits and dairy products. Lack of digestion and absorption of these fundamental group may cause a variety of digestive conditions.
For the age group of 50-year-old and above, bloating may be the result of partial obstruction of the intestine causing serious problems such as cancer of the colon. One should visit a clinic and see a doctor for treatment early if there are ‘alarming symptoms’ which may indicate a serious medical problem. These include persistent or severe pain, changes in stool frequency or form, blood in the stool and weight loss. These usually need further investigations such as gastroscopy and colonoscopy in a timely manner so that diagnosis of serious diseases are not delayed.
Bloating Can Also Be Caused By:
- Eating fatty or oily foods, which can impair stomach and intestine movement
- Drinking carbonated drinks or eating gassy food
- Eating too quickly, drinking through a straw or sucking on sweets which results in more gas entering the intestines
- Stress or anxiety
Simple Measures To Prevent Excessive Gas Include:
- Avoid carbonated drinks.
- Avoid food that is more likely to produce gas. The most common ones are beans, peas, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, and lentils.
- Avoid fatty and oily foods, which may impair intestinal movement.
- If one takes a lot of fiber, temporarily reduce high fiber food and after a one week break, slowly re-introduce fiber back into the diet to observe the effect.
- Eat slowly and try to take meals when relaxed rather than stressed or in a rush.
- Go for a short walk after eating to improve intestinal movement.
If these measures do not alleviate your bloating, please visit a clinic and consult with a doctor. Sometimes a specialist consultation may be needed. Specialist Gastroenterologist should be able to perform investigations to pinpoint the cause of your bloating and provide effective treatment. Investigations can include gastroscopy, colonoscopy and/or hydrogen-methane breath test, which is available in gutCARE, located in Singapore. The cost of most investigations mentioned should be covered by the majority of medical insurance in Singapore.
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