What is bloating?
When you’re bloated, your stomach or abdomen may feel full and uncomfortable, or even have pain.
This bloating happens when your gastrointestinal tract contains too much gas or air. However, there can be several causes for feeling bloated, so it’s essential to diagnose the causes of your bloating and find out why it’s happening to you.
What are the symptoms of bloating?
There are several symptoms to bloating that you could be experiencing. Sometimes these can be mild, or sometimes they can be more severe bloating symptoms, signs of bloating may include:
- Feeling very full and uncomfortable
- A distended or tight abdomen
- Excess gas – belching and/or flatulence
- Abdominal rumbling and/or gurgles
- Abdominal pain
What causes bloating?
Prolonged periods of bloating could indicate an underlying health problem, if so you should see your GP. If you’re wondering why you’re bloated, the possible causes can include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS diagnosis)
- Ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), where the inner lining of the large bowel is inflamed and develops ulcers
- Crohn’s disease, the other form of IBD, where some parts of your colon are inflamed
- Too much bacteria in your small intestine (called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO)
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Food intolerances, especially lactose or fructose intolerance
- Producing too much gas (dysbiosis and fermentation)
- Weight gain
- Stress or anxiety
- Delays in your food and drink moving on from your stomach (called gastroparesis)
- Eating too quickly, so that you swallow too much air (called aerophagia)
How do we diagnose the causes of bloating?
Feeling bloated is no fun, but once you know what’s going on you can start to manage your symptoms and the underlying causes. We can run the following tests to diagnose the causes of bloating:
- Gastric emptying test – which measures how quickly food leaves your stomach
- Carbohydrate malabsorption breath test – which finds out if you have certain food intolerances (lactose or fructose)
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) breath test – which finds out if you have an overgrowth of bacteria in your small intestine (called SIBO)
- Wireless motility capsule (SmartPill™) – where you swallow a special capsule which takes a series of measurements
- Oesophageal manometry – which measures the function of your oesophagus (food pipe)
- 24-hour pH impedance monitoring – which looks at whether you have any reflux
- Colonic transit study
- IBSchek™ (coming soon) – a blood test