Bloating is a feeling of fullness or tightness in the abdominal area, often accompanied by abdominal pain.
The most common cause of bloating is the presence of intestinal gas. Other causes include swallowing air unintentionally, constipation, overeating, overweight, bacterial overgrowth in the intestine, fatty foods, irritable bowel, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, and lactose intolerance (inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in dairy products). Other serious disorders that may cause bloating are ascites, celiac disease, dumping syndrome, ovarian cancer, and pancreatic insufficiency. Certain medications containing acarbose, lactulose or sorbitol may also cause bloating.
How To Reduce Bloating
If the bloating is caused by excessive intestinal gas, making some changes to your diet can help. For example, avoid foods which produce gas. Common culprits include peas and beans, onions, the brassicas such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts., Wheat products can cause trouble for some people. Consder avoiding bread in particular. Other people find fruits high in fructose such as ripe apples, peaches or pears make their bloating worse and may also induce diarrhoea.
Prunes can give some people diarrhoea and bloating also. Remember, if you are lactose intolerant, milk, ice cream, and soft cheese will make your bloating worse. Hard cheese has very little lactose in it and is usually fine to eat.
If you want to try some medicines, consider activated charcoal. These tablets are best taken after meals. They work to absorb the odour from the gas. The only problem is that they can turn the inside of your mouth, and your stools black. Having said that, they can be very effective.
Antacids such as bicarbonate of soda may help you to burp. This may relieve symptoms. Food enzymes can be taken to help you digest foods properly. This reduces the gas by breaking down the otherwise indigestible sugars. This is most commonly an issue in certain vegetables and grains.
Take the following steps to reduce bloating:
- Avoid chewing gum or eating hard sweets.
- Drink plenty of water. 2 litres a day (about 8 glasses in total) is a sensible amount for most people.
- Chew food thoroughly to avoid swallowing of air.
- Stop smoking.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals instead of large meals.
- Avoid foods that you know cause your bloating (it is amazing how many people still eat foods that they know upset them!).
- If you have constipation, it should be treated. Consider taking bulk forming laxatives which are safe. Linseed, Movicol or Normacol can be taken longterm safely.
- Avoid carbonated drinks and don’t drink too much alcohol.
If you wear dentures make sure they fit properly. That will help you chew your food better!
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