Bloating

Bloating is a common condition characterized by a feeling of fullness and discomfort in the abdomen. While it can be bothersome, there are steps you can take to alleviate it. However, if bloating persists or occurs frequently, it is advisable to consult a GP for further evaluation.

Symptoms

You may be experiencing bloating if you notice the following symptoms:

  • feeling that your abdomen is full or larger than usual
  • abdominal pain or discomfort
  • audible rumbling or gurgling sounds from your stomach
  • increased frequency of passing gas

Causes

Bloating is often the result of excess gas in the digestive system. Common causes include:

  • Consumption of certain foods and drinks: Some vegetables and fizzy drinks can contribute to gas buildup in the gut. Additionally, swallowing air while eating or drinking can also lead to bloating.
  • Digestive issues: Bloating can be associated with conditions such as constipation, food intolerances, coeliac disease, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Hormonal changes: Some individuals may experience bloating during their menstrual cycle.
  • Underlying health conditions: In rare cases, persistent bloating can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as ovarian cancer.

Tips to reduce bloating

There are several lifestyle changes you can make to reduce bloating. Consider the following:

  • Regular exercise: Engaging in physical activity improves digestion and can help alleviate bloating. It is especially beneficial during episodes of bloating.
  • Mindful eating: Chew your food with your mouth closed to minimize air swallowing. Consuming smaller, more frequent meals can also aid in digestion.
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water helps maintain healthy digestion and can prevent bloating.
  • High-fibre diet: If constipation is a contributing factor to your bloating, incorporating fibre-rich foods into your diet can help regulate bowel movements.
  • Abdominal massage: Massaging your stomach from right to left can help release trapped wind and alleviate bloating.

Pharmacist assistance

Pharmacists can provide guidance and recommend over-the-counter options for bloating relief. You may inquire about laxatives to address constipation or medications like Buscopan, which can help alleviate bloating symptoms.

When to seek medical advice

While bloating is often harmless and temporary, there are instances where medical attention is necessary. Consider the following situations:

  • Consult a GP if you have been experiencing bloating for three weeks or more, if it occurs more than 12 times a month, or if dietary changes have not improved your symptoms.
  • Seek immediate medical attention by calling 999 or visiting A&E if you experience severe abdominal pain, pain upon touching your stomach, vomit blood or coffee-ground-like substance, pass bloody or black stools, have difficulty urinating, experience chest pain, or have difficulty breathing.

Treatment

In most cases, treatment for bloating is not required. However, if necessary, the course of treatment will depend on the underlying cause. Your GP may refer you to an NHS dietitian if general dietary adjustments do not provide relief. In some cases, referral to a specialist for further tests may be necessary to identify the root cause of your bloating.

Remember, if you have any concerns or questions about your symptoms, it is always best to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance.

Doctor
General Practitioner

At Dr.Dropin our experienced GPs provide a wide range of primary care services, similar to those provided by the NHS, either in the clinic or through video consultations.

Dermatologist

At Dr.Dropin, you will receive specialist care from our expert Consultant Dermatologists provided by skindoc. With extensive experience from both public and private hospitals, we can assess and treat most chronic and acute skin disorders – either in the clinic, through video, or via a photo upload service.

References