Chronic bloating: How to manage it and when to speak with your doctor
Bloating is an uncomfortable but common occurrence for many women. That familiar abdominal discomfort and gassy feeling is often just a natural part of the body's digestive process. But if it never seems to go away it might be chronic bloating.
Chronic bloating can be caused by many things including various foods lifestyle decisions and even diseases. Fortunately there are several steps you can take to relieve the discomfort. Learning more about bloating can help you find out if it's time to speak with your doctor to discuss your symptoms and concerns.
What is bloating?
Normally, gas leaves your body through belching or flatus up to 25 times per day. If you're experiencing moderate (or worse) discomfort or find you are regularly dealing with bloating, it can be hard to pinpoint the cause. The Mayo Clinic noted there are six main causes of excess bloating:
- A diet rich in high-fiber foods. Fermenting foods in your colon create gas. High-fiber foods -- which are healthy and good for you -- typically produce the most gas. High-fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans.
- Swallowing air. When you eat quickly, chew gum, or drink through straws, some air can make it into your intestines.
- Other conditions. Inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, diverticulitis, colon cancer, and other serious conditions can cause excess gas and chronic bloating.
- Food allergies or intolerance. If your body struggles to break down components of certain foods, it can create excess gas. Lactose and gluten intolerance are common culprits.
- Artificial sweeteners. Xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol are known to cause gas.
- Constipation. If you're constipated, it can be hard to pass gas. This can lead to bloating.
How can I relieve chronic bloating?
There are several natural home remedies you can try to relieve bloating. First pay close attention to your eating habits.
- Try not to eat too quickly, limit talking while eating, and drink directly from the glass (instead of a straw). It's also important to avoid overloading your stomach with food.
- Avoid foods that cause excess bloating such as broccoli, cabbage, fried foods, beans, apple juice, and artificial sweeteners.
- Brigham and Women's suggested peppermint tea and chamomile tea can relieve bloating.
In addition to changing your eating habits, the Mayo Clinic reported exercising can help to move gas through your system and relieve discomfort.
If your bloating becomes more painful, severe, or frequent, it's time to see your doctor. Together, you and your provider can find the cause of your chronic bloating, take steps to treat any underlying conditions, and improve your symptoms. Reid Gastroenterology can help patients by diagnosing and treating symptoms. Learn how you can request an appointment.