Is Bloating a Cause for Concern?
Everyone has experienced an uncomfortable, “full belly” at some point in their life. While most times, it is perfectly normal and shouldn’t raise any concerns, there are rare occasions in which it may be an indication of a more serious problem. However, unless bloating is accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and weight loss, it is likely nothing to be worried about. Many times, certain diets, eating a big meal, or excessive salt intake can cause bloating.
What Are Common Causes of Bloating?
There are many different causes of bloating, and these happen to be some of the most common reasons. Most times, bloating can be reduced or eliminated with diet and lifestyle changes.
- Healthy eating: While this may sound contradictory, healthy foods can often lead to bloating. For instance, vegetables such as cabbage, brussel sprouts, and carrots can result in bloating. Another food that causes bloating are legumes, such as beans. These types of foods can cause extra air to get trapped in your belly, resulting in a full, uncomfortable feeling in your stomach. Additionally, foods high in fiber and lactose can also cause bloating. Fruits like watermelon, pears, and apples can also cause bloating because of the ratio of fructose to glucose.
- Diet products: Sugar substitutes found in many diet foods can cause bloating and an uncomfortable feeling. This also applies to certain probiotics, such as kombucha, which causes gas, bloating and loose stools.
- Constipation: We’ve all experienced constipation at some point, which can be very uncomfortable. Constipation is usually accompanied by gas, which can leave your belly feeling bloated and heavy.
- Stress: Believe it or not, stress can lead to bloating as well. When you are stressed, your body also experiences physical symptoms that can affect your gastrointestinal tract, resulting in bloating. For instance, when you breathe heavily, this can lead to more air getting trapped in your belly. Also, when your heart races, it slows down your digestion, as your body diverts air away from your gastrointestinal tract.
- Lack of exercise: Lack of exercise can be another cause of bloating. While exercise is not an ideal activity to think of while being bloated, it is a great way to prevent and reduce bloating. If you find yourself always bloated, increasing physical activity may help. Exercise helps to stimulate your digestive tract, which ultimately results in food and air to pass more easily through your gastrointestinal tract.
- Recovering from a stomach virus: Oftentimes, people tend to feel bloating after recovering from a stomach virus/bug. The reasoning behind this is because there is a bacterial overgrowth that occurred in the small intestine from the infection.
When Bloating is a Sign of a More Serious Condition
While the common causes of bloating mentioned above can usually be alleviated or eliminated with diet and lifestyle changes, there are rare occasions when bloating may be a sign of a more serious condition. Below are three conditions that will require medical attention from a gastroenterologist in Thousand Oaks:
- Irritable bowel syndrome: Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, causes a change in bowel movements, resulting in constipation, diarrhea, or both. These symptoms can result in stomach pain. If you experience any of these symptoms, then it is important to consult with a doctor.
- Crohn’s disease: Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that can result in bloating, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and/or fever. If you are experiencing a combination of these symptoms, then it is important to see a doctor to get tested.
- Cancer: Before anything, it is important to note that you should not panic! Bloating is often the result of something easily treatable. However, in very rare cases, it can be a sign of a serious illness, such as cancer. If your bloating is accompanied by weight loss and blood in the stool, then it is best to consult with a doctor who can check you for pancreatic cancer or stomach cancer, and if you’re a female, your doctor can also check you for ovarian cancer.
Whatever the case is, don’t let bloating control your life. Our team is here to help you every step of the way and get to the root cause of your problem so we can do everything we can to treat it. At the Gastroenterology Center of Thousand Oaks, our team is committed to helping our patients overcome their gastrointestinal problems. If you are seeking diagnosis and treatment from a GI specialist in Thousand Oaks, contact us today!