Severe swelling of the stomach after eating meals may be the result of the foods you're eating or an underlying condition. Swelling of the stomach, also called bloating, can add a few inches to your waistline, make you feel full and cause minor discomfort in your abdomen. Bloating is a common occurrence on occasion, but if you develop bloating every time you eat, you need to make an appointment with your doctor.
Bloating is the result of trapped gas in your stomach and intestines. After you eat, your food is digested in the stomach and enters the small intestines, where enzymes break down the proteins, carbohydrates and sugars in the food to use it in your body for energy. Some foods are more difficult to digest and can cause excessive gas that can build in the digestive system, causing belching, passing of gas and bloating. Common foods that are considered gas-forming include cauliflower, carbonated beverages, baked beans, cabbage, broccoli, hard candy and fruits and vegetables. Bloating may also be the result of swallowing air from eating too fast or chewing gum.
One of the main symptoms of food intolerances is bloating. Food intolerance occurs when your body lacks the appropriate enzymes to break down proteins or sugars in specific foods. The undigested portion of the food can cause interaction with harmless bacteria in the colon that result in gas, bloating and diarrhea, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. Common food intolerances include sugar found in milk, gluten, MSG, fructose, histamine and food additives. Most food intolerances primarily affect the digestive system and could lead to nausea and vomiting.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
If you develop bloating no matter what you eat, you may have a chronic digestive condition called irritable bowel syndrome. IBS is a digestive disease that affects about 20 percent of the America population, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. The most common symptoms of IBS include bloating, stomach pain, cramping, chronic diarrhea or constipation. Preventing symptoms may include a change in your diet and reduction of stress.
Other common causes of excessive bloating after eat a meal include constipation, gastroesophageal reflux disease, overeating, small bowel bacterial overgrowth, weight gain, ovarian cancer, tumors and celiac disease, according to MedlinePlus. A medical evaluation needs to be performed before you attempt to self-treat your symptoms.