What Is the Definition of Bloating?

Learn the causes of belly bloat to reduce abdominal bloating and discomfort

bloating causes and tips to reduce
tbradford/E+/ Getty Images

Abdominal bloating is an uncomfortable feeling of fullness, tightness or distention in the belly area. Abdominal bloating usually occurs after eating and is often the result of digestive gasses, including carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and sometimes methane or sulfur.

What is Bloating?

Understanding the definition of abdominal bloating may be helpful if you are trying to reduce the symptoms, but you probably already know if you have it.

It's the feeling of tightness in your waistline that often happens after you eat. You might unbutton your waistband or even put on a looser pair of pants to reduce the discomfort from bloating.

So why does abdominal bloating occur? Many times, the food we eat, the amount of food we eat and the way in which we eat food causes gas to accumulate in the digestive system. The result is that familiar belly bulge. Abdominal bloating continues until you reduce the excess air by internal digestive processes or by expelling the air through the mouth (belching) or the anus (passing gas). 

Ways to Reduce Abdominal Bloating

The most common causes of abdominal bloating can usually be traced back to your last meal. If you can identify the food or the eating behavior that caused belly bloat, it becomes easier to reduce it in the future. You can use this list to identify the culprit and reduce bloating.

Some people take over the counter medications to reduce bloating. Products such as Beano can be taken with food.  According to the National Institutes of Health, medications like Gas-X, or Mylanta Gas taken after meals may also reduce the symptoms of abdominal bloating in some people.

Other Causes of Abdominal Bloating

Sometimes your food intake is not the cause of abdominal bloating. Menstrual changes or food intolerance may cause belly bloat or puffiness. So it's important to pay attention when bloating occurs and talk to your doctor if the condition is chronic.

There are rare but serious conditions such as colon cancer, bowel obstruction, irritable bowel syndrome and other diseases that your physician may want to rule out if abdominal bloating becomes a problem.  Be sure to check with your health care provider if bloating becomes chronic or if you experience other problems such as abdominal pain, blood in your stools, diarrhea, or vomiting.

*Edited by Malia Frey, Weight Loss Expert


Medline Plus. Abdominal bloating. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Accessed: January 6, 2016. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003123.htm

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Gas in the Digestive Tract. National Institutes of Health. Accessed: January 6, 2016. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/gas/Pages/facts.aspx

Continue Reading