How to Relieve Bloating and Water Retention

Updated April 17, 2017

Bloating and water retention share several common causes and symptoms. Bloating is a feeling of abdominal fullness, caused by air build-up in the stomach or intestines; due to diet, stress, hormone fluctuations or medical conditions. Water retention, or fluid that has built up in the body instead of removed through the urinary system, may be caused by diet, inactivity, hormone fluctuations, certain medications and medical conditions. Simple diet or lifestyle changes can usually help you relieve occasional bloating or water retention.

Identify your personal bloating triggers. These may include artificial sweeteners, certain carbohydrates, fatty foods, dairy products gulping food or beverages, certain medications or anxiety. Bloating triggers and the severity of their effects vary from person to person.

Eat slowly and try to relax during mealtimes, whenever possible. Eating and drinking too quickly, or eating when you are stressed, can cause you to swallow excess air, which increases bloating. Take time to chew food thoroughly before swallowing.

Limit fatty foods. Fat delays stomach emptying and can increase the sensation of fullness, according to Mayo

Exercise regularly to help food move through your digestive system more quickly.

Take an over-the-counter digestive aid, such as Lactaid or Beano, as directed to relieve bloating caused by food or dairy triggers. Over-the-counter simethicone products may help relieve bloating caused by gas. Consult your doctor before taking digestive aids or gas relievers to avoid potentially harmful side effects or drug interactions.

Identify the cause of your water retention. Common causes include premenstrual syndrome (PMS), dehydration, lack of exercise, a high-sodium diet, certain medications, and medical conditions, such as heart disease.

Increase your daily fluid intake, if not contraindicated by a medical condition. Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water and other liquids a day.

Eat a healthy diet, rich in lean protein, B vitamins and fresh fruits and vegetables with high water contents, such as cucumbers, onions, celery, parsley and melon. Limit high-sodium foods, such as processed foods, and avoid adding extra salt to meals and snacks.

Exercise regularly. Exercise helps to regulate the body's fluid balance and reduces the severity of PMS symptoms.

Take 1,200 mg of calcium and/or 200 to 400 mg of magnesium daily to relieve PMS-related water retention. Consult with your doctor before taking supplements to avoid potentially harmful side effects or drug interactions.


If symptoms of bloating or water retention persist or worsen despite diet and lifestyle changes, see your doctor to determine a possible medical cause of bloating or water retention.

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About the Author

Kelly Smith has been writing professionally since 2010. She writes for various websites, specializing in health and literature. Smith is a certified pharmacy technician with more than five years of professional experience. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in multimedia communications from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia.