Common Causes of Stomach Bloating

Published: 23rd September 2011
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Stomach bloating causes much more than difficulty buttoning your jeans. It is also incredibly uncomfortable, and can lead to embarrassment as it is often accompanied by gas. While stomach bloat is sometimes caused by something as innocuous as gas, it can also be a symptom of a more severe and potentially life-threatening condition.

Celiac Disease
Stomach bloat is often one of the first noticeable symptoms of celiac disease, an autoimmune disease where the body is unable to correctly process gluten. Other symptoms include bouts of constipation and diarrhea, and over time, the condition can cause fairly severe damage to the small intestine. There is no cure, and the only treatment is to avoid all contact with gluten and foods that contain gluten.

Lactose Intolerance
Like celiac disease, this is a condition where the body cannot process a certain type of food. It's less severe than celiac disease, but can still be pretty uncomfortable, with symptoms that include stomach bloating, gas, diarrhea and sometimes nausea and vomiting. People with this condition should be careful to avoid dairy and other foods with lactose.

Sometimes a bloated stomach is simply because of overeating. When too much food is consumed too rapidly, and digestion slows down in an effort to handle it all. This can cause a great deal of discomfort, as well as other symptoms such as indigestion, heartburn and fatigue. If overeating happens frequently, you may be suffering from an overeating disorder, which can lead to obesity, diabetes and other serious health conditions.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS is a condition that is known as a functional disorder. The bowel shows no sign of disease, but there is no question that this is an uncomfortable condition. Because of the lack of obvious disease, it can be very difficult to treat, which makes it incredibly frustrating. The symptoms are often chalked up to stress or an emotional problem, but evidence suggests that this isn't necessarily so. The symptoms, which including bloating, gas, cramping and nausea can be somewhat controlled through diet, but sometimes they can still interfere with life.

This condition is an inflammation of the pancreas, a small gland that plays an important role in digestion. Sometimes the digestive enzymes attack the pancreas and damage the tissue. Other pancreas problems include gallstones that invade the pancreas and damage due to long-term alcohol abuse. A severe case of pancreatitis can cause pain, bloating, fever, rapid pulse and vomiting. Someone experiencing these symptoms should be seen right away in an emergency room.

Food Poisoning
Food poisoning is usually caused by Salmonella bacteria. It's usually picked up by eating contaminated and undercooked eggs and chicken, although any food can become contaminated if it comes into contact with the bacteria. The bacteria causes a multitude of digestive problems, including bloating, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. It can be very risky when contracted by someone with a compromised immune system, the very young or the elderly or pregnant women.

Sometimes bloating can be a symptom of a very serious condition. Some of these include:

  • Cancer, including colorectal or pancreatic, stomach or ovarian cancers
  • Liver disease caused by long-term alcohol abuse
  • Crohn's disease
  • Appendicitis
If you are experiencing severe bloating and can't pin the cause to something you ate, you should get checked out by a doctor. If your symptoms are causing you severe pain, nausea or vomiting, treat it as an emergency. Stomach bloating should be taken seriously.

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