When you can’t zip your jeans from an hour ago, blame it on bloat. It’s not only bothersome; it may also be quite uncomfortable and painful. Sometimes you know precisely what caused your puffiness (for example, that large supper you consumed in seconds), but other times (read: most of the time), you may be scratching your head and asking, Why am I so bloated?
To begin, let’s define bloating. “There are a lot of misunderstandings about what it is and what causes it,” explains Kyle Staller, MD, MPH, a gastroenterologist and the head of Mass General’s Gastrointestinal Motility Laboratory. “Bloating is defined medically as the feeling of being bloated. But then we get into distension, which is when your abdomen expands. When I meet patients who complain of bloating, the majority of the time they are referring to swelling.”
A variety of dietary or health conditions might cause your abdomen to enlarge. “There might be dietary intolerances, such as to high-FODMAP meals. Dysbiosis, or an imbalance of the gut microbiome, could occur, as could small intestinal bacterial overgrowth “Marvin Singh, MD, the author of Rescue Your Health, the founder of Precision Clinic, and the director of Integrative Gastroenterology at the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute at UC Irvine, explains.
He believes it’s never a bad idea to visit your doctor about any symptoms you’re experiencing. If you notice changes in your bowel habits, weight loss, stomach discomfort, nausea, vomiting, fevers, or other worrying symptoms, you should see your doctor very once. “It’s absolutely worth contacting your doctor to make sure that one of these other illnesses isn’t at play if you’re struggling with chronic bloating and it’s impacting how you dress, your body image, and how you eat,” says Dr. Staller.
Bloating is quite frequent, so “do not feel alone here,” advises Samantha Nazareth, MD, a gastroenterologist in New York City.
When you start to Google your symptoms, keep in mind that your lifestyle choices might play a factor in your bloat struggle. That implies relief is within reach—you simply need to make a few lifestyle modifications.