Bloating, a common digestive problem, can affect anyone. There are many causes of bloating, but most people notice this problem after eating or drinking certain foods. Menstruating women often complain of bloating. But regardless of the cause, there are techniques to control the uncomfortable feeling of bloating.
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Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia describes abdominal bloating as a feeling of tightness or fullness around the stomach region. Bloating affects everyone differently. One person may simply experience abdominal tightness, another may have a slightly distended abdomen. Causes of bloating include constipation, lactose intolerance, intestinal gas, irritable bowel syndrome and overeating.
Foods and drinks are common culprits of abdominal bloating. Gassy foods such as cauliflower, lettuce and beans are often difficult to digest. Slow digestion prompts infrequent bowel movements and the build-up of intestinal gas, which causes the stomach to bloat. Additionally, consuming carbonated drinks such as sodas and drinks containing artificial sweeteners (which are difficult to digest) can also result in bloating or abdominal tightness.
Constipation refers to infrequent bowel movements, and various situations contribute to this condition, including lack of physical exercise, dehydration and too little fibre in the diet. Controlling bloating often calls for regulating the digestive tract and getting rid of constipation. Using fibre supplements and increasing fluid intake (eight glasses of water a day) naturally relieves constipation, which in turn can relieve abdominal bloating.
A high sodium diet also plays a role in bloating. Too much salt prompts fluid retention. Fluid tends to settle in the abdomen and lower half of the body. This results in belly bloating as well as swelling in thighs and legs. Decreasing sodium (no more than 2,400 mg a day) and eating fresh fruits and vegetables can reduce water retention and control bloating
Seek medical attention if you are unable to control bloating, especially in the abdomen. Chronic abdominal bloating that doesn't respond to home treatment can signal a serious medical condition such as tumours or ovarian cancer, states Medline Plus.
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