If your stomach appears bigger even though your weight stays the same, you might be concerned. Abdominal bloating can enlarge your waist and make your pants fit tighter. Many issues, from not at all serious but quite uncomfortable to potentially life-threatening, can cause abdominal bloating. If bloating is causing you regular discomfort, make an appointment with your health care provider.
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Excess gas in the intestines often causes bloating. Common cause include air swallowing, lactose intolerance or gulping beverages. Gas also occurs when undigested food is broken down by bacteria in the intestines, creating hydrogen and carbon dioxide, and methane in some people's digestive tracts. Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, a collection of gastrointestinal symptoms that affects around 10 to 15 percent of Americans, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases,can also cause bloating. Colorectal cancer can also lead to bloating.
If your stomach is bloated, it will feel full and appear round and the skin may feel tight. If excess gas is causing the problem, you will experience belching or flatulence. If IBS causes bloating, you may also experience cramps, abdominal pain and constipation or diarrhea. Lactose intolerance causes symptoms within 30 minutes to two hours after consuming dairy products. Women are twice as likely to have IBS, which most often affects those under age 45, the NIDDK reports. If you have colorectal cancer, you may have blood in your stool and abdominal discomfort. A colonoscopy can help identify colorectal cancer and the best way to treat it.
Cutting foods that commonly cause gas, such as beans, dairy, fructose, raw fruits and vegetables and starches, from your diet can help treat excess gas and IBS symptoms. If you choose to eat gas-causing foods, taking over-the-counter digestive enzymes at the same time can reduce the amount of gas in your intestinal tract. For lactose intolerance, avoiding dairy or taking lactase tablets can help. An SSRI-antidepressant can also give relief for IBS because it inhibits the activity of neurons that control the intestines. Alosetron and lubiprostone are two medications available for IBS. For colorectal cancer, undergoing surgery, possibly followed by chemotherapy and radiation, will treat the cancer.
Eating smaller meals can help reduce bloating if you have IBS. Learning stress management skills might also help -- stress can increase the severity of your symptoms. To treat both IBS and excess gas, drink plenty of liquids, but avoid alcohol and caffeine. Colorectal cancer is most common over the age of 50. Having regular screenings, especially if you have a family history of colorectal cancer, increases your chances of catching the cancer early.