Bloating

Bloating, gas (flatus), and burping are all normal conditions. Gas is made in the stomach and intestines as your body breaks down food into energy. Gas and burping may sometimes be embarrassing. Bloating, which is a feeling of fullness in the abdomen, can make you uncomfortable. Although many people think that they pass gas too often or have too much gas, it is rare to have too much gas. Changing what you eat and drink can sometimes cut down on gas and relieve discomfort caused by gas.

Quick Facts

Symptoms:

Belching or burping (eructation) is the voluntary or involuntary, sometimes noisy release of air from the stomach or esophagus through the mouth. Burping 3 to 4 times after eating a meal is normal and is usually caused by swallowing air. Other causes of burping include nervous habits or other medical conditions, such as an ulcer or a gallbladder problem. In some cultures, a person may belch loudly after eating to show appreciation for the meal.

All people pass gas, but some people produce more gas than others. It is normal to pass gas from 6 to 20 times a day. Although this may embarrass or annoy you, excess intestinal gas usually is not caused by a serious health condition.

Common Causes:

  • Swallowed air. If swallowed air is not burped up, it passes through the digestive tract and is released through the anus as flatus. Excessive air swallowing may cause hiccups.
  • Foods and beverages. The amount of gas that different foods cause varies from person to person.
  • Constipation. This can cause bloating but generally does not increase gas.
  • Medicines or nutritional supplements. Both prescription and nonprescription medicines, as well as dietary supplements, can cause bloating and gas as side effects.
  • medical condition, such as a bowel obstruction or Crohn's disease.
  • Changes in hormone levels. It is common for women to have bloating right before their periods because their bodies retain fluid.

Diagnosis:

  • Review of medical history.
  • Physical examination. 

Common Treatments:

You may be able to prevent bloating, gas, and burping.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Avoid gulping food or beverages.
  • Chew your food thoroughly before you swallow.
  • Avoid drinking through a straw.
  • Avoid chewing gum or eating hard candy.
  • Do not smoke or use other tobacco products.
  • Keep calm. Tension and anxiety can cause you to swallow air.
  • Keep a food diary if you suspect that gas is caused by certain foods. Write down what you eat or drink and when symptoms occur to help you identify foods or drinks that may cause gas. Once these problem foods are identified, avoid or limit them to reduce or prevent symptoms.
  • Talk with your health professional or a dietitian about ways to maintain a balanced diet .
  • If you suspect milk or other dairy products are causing your symptoms, try limiting or eliminating these foods. For more information, see the topic Lactose Intolerance.
  • Do not overeat. Large meals can make you feel bloated. Try eating 6 small meals a day rather than 3 large ones.
  • Avoid constipation, which is a common cause of bloating.
  • Avoid laxatives.
  • Use an antigas product that you can buy without a prescription.
  • Exercise regularly.

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