When your stomach swells and feels hard, it is an indication that something is going on in the trunk of your body. You could be experiencing the side effects from a diet that you are following, or it may be caused by the type of beverages you drink. Usually, when you have a hard stomach, you have other symptoms as well. In some cases, symptoms may subside shortly after you eat or after you change diets. Other times, symptoms may not go away.
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Usually, a hard stomach means that you have constipation or gas, and the condition often remedies on its own. Certain foods and beverages may cause difficulties with digestion. Drinking sodas and eating too fast can give you a hard stomach from the accumulated gas. Occasionally, a hard stomach could indicate a serious medical condition such as stomach cancer or irritable bowel syndrome, commonly known as IBS.
When you have digestion problems, you may have symptoms that include abdominal pain, gas and bloating, or a feeling of fullness in the stomach. In these cases, the symptoms eventually subside as the gas or digested food is eventually expelled. However, stomach cancers cause the stomach to feel rigid or inflexible, and the symptoms remain until treated.
Types of Cancers
A hard stomach could indicate two types of stomach cancers. Cancer can form in the stomach lining or muscle walls. A tumor may form in the stomach lining, and the tumor could cause a hard bump on the stomach. Another type of stomach cancer affects the stomach muscles and causes rigid, leather-like scar tissue. Stomach cancer can spread to adjacent organs, and cause any part of the affected organ in the body's trunk to feel hard.
Identifying Digestive Disorders
Occasional indigestion and constipation can happen to anyone. Sometimes, too much air gets into the stomach. Drinking carbonated beverages and eating too fast or too much could cause excess air in the stomach. As food digests, the excess air comes up as a burp. Some people may be lactose intolerant or may not easily digest some foods. These temporary problems may cause the stomach to feel hard for a few hours or even a few days. IBS is a disorder that causes frequent bouts of constipation, diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain and upset stomach. Sometimes, symptoms last for days or even weeks at a time. During this time, the stomach may bloat and feel hard.
How your stomach responds to fiber may be the key to how serious your condition is. High-fiber diets can cause bloating and a hard stomach because fiber creates bulk and expands the stomach. On the other hand, a low-fiber diet can prevent thorough digestion, causing buildup in the digestive system. The Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board recommends 38 g of fiber daily for men and 25 g of fiber daily for women. After age 50, the daily recommendation lowers to 30 g for men and 21 g for women. The American Diabetic Association cautions against bulking up on fiber, especially for those who are over age 65 or have undergone gastrointestinal surgery. If you consume the fiber intake recommended for you and still have a hard stomach after seven days, make a visit with your doctor.