Abdominal Fullness or Bloating

Overview

Abdominal fullness or bloating occurs when excess gas builds up in the digestive tract.

Common causes of gas and abdominal fullness or bloating include:

  • Swallowed air. If swallowed air is not burped up, it passes through the digestive tract and is released through the anus as gas (flatus). Excessive air swallowing may cause hiccups.
  • Gas-producing foods and drinks, such as beans, broccoli, carbonated drinks, and beer. The amount of gas and the odor that different foods cause vary from person to person.
  • Lactose intolerance. A person who can't easily digest lactose, a type of natural sugar found in milk and dairy products, can have both gas and bloating as well as other symptoms.
  • Constipation. This can cause bloating but generally does not increase gas.
  • Medicines or nutritional supplements. Both prescription and nonprescription medicines, as well as dietary supplements, can cause bloating and gas as side effects.
  • Changing hormone levels. Many people feel bloated right before their periods because their bodies retain fluid.
  • Pregnancy.

Occasionally, excess gas and bloating may be caused by a more serious medical problem, such as a bowel obstruction, liver problems, gallbladder disease, or cancer.

Treatment depends on what is causing the problem. Call your doctor for a checkup if you have abdominal fullness or bloating that has not gotten better or gone away with home treatment.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: October 19, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
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