Abdominal Bloating

When you have abdominal bloating, your abdomen may feel full, tight, or painful. It may also look bigger than normal or swollen (distended). Common causes of abdominal bloating include:

  • Swallowing air.

  • Constipation.

  • Problems digesting food.

  • Eating too much.

  • Irritable bowel syndrome. This is a condition that affects the large intestine.

  • Lactose intolerance. This is an inability to digest lactose, a natural sugar in dairy products.

  • Celiac disease. This is a condition that affects the ability to digest gluten, a protein found in some grains.

  • Gastroparesis. This is a condition that slows down the movement of food in the stomach and small intestine. It is more common in people with diabetes mellitus.

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This is a condition that makes stomach acid flow back into the esophagus.

  • Urinary retention. This means that the body is holding onto urine, and the bladder cannot be emptied all the way.

Follow these instructions at home:

Eating and drinking

  • Avoid eating too much.

  • Try not to swallow air while talking or eating.

  • Avoid eating while lying down.

  • Avoid these foods and drinks:

    • Foods that cause gas, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and baked beans.

    • Carbonated drinks.

    • Hard candy.

    • Chewing gum.


  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.

  • Take probiotic medicines. These medicines contain live bacteria or yeasts that can help digestion.

  • Take coated peppermint oil capsules.

General instructions

  • Try to exercise regularly. Exercise may help to relieve bloating that is caused by gas and relieve constipation.

  • Keep all follow-up visits. This is important.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • You have nausea and vomiting.

  • You have diarrhea.

  • You have abdominal pain.

  • You have unusual weight loss or weight gain.

  • You have severe pain, and medicines do not help.

Get help right away if:

  • You have chest pain.

  • You have trouble breathing.

  • You have shortness of breath.

  • You have trouble urinating.

  • You have darker urine than normal.

  • You have blood in your stools or have dark, tarry stools.

These symptoms may represent a serious problem that is an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get medical help right away. Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.). Do not drive yourself to the hospital.


  • Abdominal bloating means that the abdomen is swollen.

  • Common causes of abdominal bloating are swallowing air, constipation, and problems digesting food.

  • Avoid eating too much and avoid swallowing air.

  • Avoid foods that cause gas, carbonated drinks, hard candy, and chewing gum.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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