What is bloating?
When you’re bloated, your stomach or abdomen can feel full and uncomfortable, or even painful.
This bloating happens when your gastrointestinal tract contains too much gas or air. Bloating can be mild, or more severe, and may present as:
– A visibly distended or swollen abdomen
– Feeling very full and uncomfortable
– Feeling of tightness in the abdomen
– Excess gas – belching and/or flatulence
– Rumbling or gurgling
There are several causes of bloating, so it’s important to diagnose the cause of your bloating and find out why it’s happening to you.
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)
- 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- a non-invasive test which looks at how long it takes for faeces to pass through your bowl