Bloating in men occurs when the abdomen becomes visibly extended. The bloating may be accompanied by cramps and a physical feeling of fullness in the stomach. Men often experience bloating as a result of increased gas in the abdomen. Increased gas can occur as a result of intestinal infections or intolerances to certain foods.
Bloating in men may occur from a number of causes, including eating contaminated food, a food intolerance or an underlying health condition such as celiac disease or irritable bowel syndrome.
Eating Contaminated Food
Viral gastroenteritis is an intestinal infection that can develop in a man after the consumption of contaminated food or beverages, or direct contact with an infected individual. Although commonly referred to as the stomach flu, viral gastroenteritis does not affect the stomach and is not caused by the influenza virus. Some of the most common viruses that cause viral gastroenteritis include rotavirus and noroviruses.
Viral gastroenteritis may cause abdominal cramps and pain, watery diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, a low fever and severe bloating in men, according to Mayo Clinic. Because viral gastroenteritis is caused by a virus, it cannot be cleared with antibiotics. The best treatment for viral gastroenteritis consists of increased fluid intake, bed rest and avoiding irritating foods.
Intolerance to Lactose
Lactose is a natural sugar found in milk and milk products. In order to properly digest lactose, the body must have significant amounts of the enzyme lactase. A man who is lactose intolerant does not have enough lactase in his body. Because of this, lactose moves through his digestive system in its full form and causes a number of irritating symptoms: bloating, abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea and nausea.
The symptoms of lactose intolerance can be avoided by eliminating lactose from the diet. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends taken a vitamin supplement rich with calcium if eliminating lactose from the diet. There are also synthetic enzymes available that can be taken with lactose-containing foods to prevent symptoms.
Consider Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Although more common in women, bloating in men may result from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This functional gastrointestinal disorder causes a range of symptoms from constipation to diarrhea to abdominal pain and even bloating.
Treatment for IBS and the symptoms it causes may include medications to improve bowel function, probiotics and diet changes. Adding more fiber to your diet and drinking more water may also help regulate bowel function and alleviate some of the IBS symptoms, like bloating.
It Could Be Celiac Disease
The lining of the small intestines contains small projections called villi which are needed for proper absorption of nutrients. Celiac disease is a condition characterized by damaged villi and the resulting malabsorption of nutrients. In a man with Celiac disease, the villi become damaged as a result of ingesting gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
Symptoms of Celiac disease can vary among individuals, but generally include abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, decreased appetite, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, floating stools and unexplained weight loss. Celiac disease cannot be cured, but damage can be reversed and symptoms avoided by following a gluten-free diet.