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Abdominal swelling, also known as distention, occurs when the stomach region expands or enlarges, giving off the appearance of being bloated. This typically happens when there is some internal pressure on a person’s organs, and many people experience some form of distention when they eat a particularly heavy meal. This type of abdominal swelling usually goes down after the food digests. However, some people have a more serious form of abdominal swelling that doesn’t disappear quite as easily. Here we’ll look at some of the causes, symptoms and treatments for abdominal swelling.
Causes of Abdominal Swelling
Abdominal swelling is not the result of any one particular thing, and there can be a variety of different factors that cause someone to suffer from various forms of distention. These include, but are not limited to:
- Overeating at a meal. When a person eats an unusually heavy meal, abdominal swelling can occur. This usually subsides after the meal digests.
- Aerophagia, or sleep swallowing. This is the result of someone continually swallowing too much air. Swallowing too much air is usually a nervous habit.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS. People who suffer from IBS frequently experience bloating in the abdominal region that can lead to distention.
- Consuming too much fiber. Eating a diet full of fiber rich foods is important to maintaining a healthy body, but consuming too much can lead to excess gas in the body, which can cause abdominal swelling.
- Suffering from lactose intolerance. For some people, eating or drinking dairy products can cause an upset stomach and distention.
- Ovarian cysts. If an ovarian cyst ruptures it can cause some abdominal swelling.
- Bowel blockage. When someone has bowel blockage and the contents of the bowel are unable to pass through the intestines it can result in swelling in the abdomen.
- Pregnancy. When you become pregnant your body starts to release progesterone, which relaxes the body and slows digestion. The result is usually some form of abdominal swelling.
- PMS. Many women suffer from bloating in the abdominal region at the same time that they have PMS. This is usually due to increased hormones being produced and the body retaining water.
- Uterine fibroids. Uterine fibroids are muscular growths that form along the wall of the uterus. They typically form in groups, though they can pop up individually as well. As they grow and expand, they can cause abdominal bloating and swelling.
These are just some of the causes of abdominal swelling. Weight gain, food poisoning, fluid build-up, and various types of infections and diseases can also cause people to suffer from abdominal swelling.
Symptoms of Abdominal Swelling
In addition to your abdominal region being swollen, these signs may also point to distention:
- Abdominal pain
- Feeling uncomfortably full.
- Having tightness in the abdominal region.
- Excessive gas or flatulence.
- Irregular digestion in the form of either constipation or diarrhea.
- The stomach area feeling hard to the touch, but bloated.
- The stomach area growing throughout the day.
- Feeling generally uncomfortable in the gut area.
If the problem causing the abdominal swelling isn’t a serious one, then these symptoms should reside on their own after a few hours. When symptoms subside after a short period of time, then the abdominal swelling is usually due to overeating, ingesting foods that are not compatible with the body’s digestive system, or eating too many fiber rich foods. However if the symptoms continue to worsen throughout the day or are experienced for several days at a time then it’s time to seek medical help, as this could be an indication that something much more serious is going on in the body that needs to be looked at by a medical professional.
Treatments for Abdominal Swelling
If you’re suffering from abdominal swelling then you may want to try some of these treatments to help ease the symptoms:
1. Cutting back on your consumption of fibrous foods
2. Decreasing your meal size
Overeating is one of the main causes of distention, and sometimes the remedy is as simple as cutting back on your portion sizes when you eat. By eating less at each meal you may be able to drastically reduce or eliminate the amount of swelling.
3. Cleaning up your diet
The consumption of alcohol, excessive salt intake, carbonated drinks, and other processed foods can directly result in abdominal swelling. By eating a clean diet full of rich, whole foods many people are able to drastically cut back on the amount of abdominal swelling they suffer from, and even eliminate it.
4. Eliminating certain trigger foods from your diet
If you suffer from lactose intolerance or gluten intolerance, then eliminating these foods from your diet could help relieve abdominal swelling. You should check with your health practitioner before completely eliminating food groups, however.
Adequately hydrating throughout the day helps keep your bowels functioning effectively, so if you’re suffering from bowel blockage then you may simply need to increase your water intake.
6. Try eating foods that are known to help reduce swelling
Ginger has been proven to help reduce inflammation, swelling, and discomfort in the body.
Sometimes rest is the best medicine.
When all else fails, visit your doctor.
In some cases the underlying cause of abdominal swelling is much more serious than anything that can be treated with a home remedy. If you’ve been suffering from abdominal swelling or distention for several days in a row and nothing seems to be helping the swelling subside, then you need to make an appointment with your doctor, as it could be an indication of something much more serious going on inside your body that needs to be addressed by a professional.