Bloating occurs when air (gas) accumulates in your stomach or intestines, causing your abdomen to feel full or tight. This can be super uncomfortable and even interfere with your daily activities. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to feel better—including changes to your diet that can decrease bloating in the long run, and over-the-counter remedies that can provide relief when you need it quickly.
What causes bloating?
Understanding the causes of bloating can help you identify why you are experiencing it. This is important for preventing future bouts of bloating and can even help you select the proper treatment. According to the Mayo Clinic, bloating can be caused by the following.
Consuming certain foods or drinks
Gas is a byproduct of digestion, and eating high-fiber foods like beans, lentils, and cabbage, can cause your body to produce more gas than usual. Additionally, drinking carbonated beverages can also cause bloating.
Some people have difficulty digesting certain types of food (such as lactose or gluten), according to the Cleveland Clinic. These intolerances often cause bloating, among other symptoms.
There are several disorders that can affect your digestive system, according to the Cleveland Clinic. These include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), functional dyspepsia, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), motility diseases (like gastroparesis), and carbohydrate malabsorption.
Even minor cases of constipation can lead to feeling bloated. Constipation can be caused by a number of different things, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Including:
- Not eating enough fiber
- Not drinking enough water
- Not getting enough exercise
- Changes in your routine
- Consuming too much milk or cheese
- Resisting the urge to have a bowel movement
- Certain medications like strong painkillers, antidepressants, antacids, iron supplements, allergy medications, blood pressure medications, anti seizure medications, antinausea medications, and anesthesia
- Certain medical conditions like diabetes, IBS, diverticulitis, Parkinson’s disease, pregnancy, lupus, and stroke
Changes in your hormones (such as during your menstrual period) can also cause you to experience bloating, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
How-to Get Rid of Bloating
1. Finding the cause
The first step in treating your bloating (and preventing future cases), it's important to try to identify what could be causing it. Here are some steps you can take to determine the cause of your bloating, according to the Cleveland Clinic:
- Track your foods and drinks: Keep a food diary for a week or two, noting what you eat and when you experience bloating. This may help you identify any patterns or specific foods that trigger your symptoms.
- Try an elimination diet: If you suspect a particular food or ingredient to be causing your bloating, try removing it from your diet for a short period to see if your symptoms improve. A good elimination diet to try is the low-FODMAP diet, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
- Consult a healthcare professional: If you're unable to pinpoint the cause of your bloating through self-assessment, consider seeing a healthcare provider for further evaluation and guidance. They can help rule out any medical conditions that could be causing your bloating, as well as provide a tailored treatment plan to help you manage your symptoms.
2. Practice mindful eating
One key strategy to prevent bloating is to practice mindful eating. Since eating quickly can cause you to swallow air, the Cleveland Clinic notes that you should eat slowly and make sure you chew your food thoroughly.
3. Limit gas-producing foods
Another way to reduce or prevent bloating is by limiting your intake of gas-producing foods. Some common gas-producing foods, according to Gastroenterology Consults of San Antonio, include:
- Whole wheat
- Carbonated beverages like soda and sparkling water
4. Identify and manage food intolerances
Some people are intolerant to certain types of foods, which can lead to bloating. Common food intolerances include lactose, gluten, and fructose, according to the Cleveland Clinic. An elimination diet can help you identify if you have a food intolerance.
5. Stay hydrated
Drinking enough water can help prevent bloating and aid in digestion, according to the Cleveland Clinic. They recommend that you aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. Keep in mind that individual hydration needs can vary, so adjust accordingly.
6. Get regular exercise
Getting regular exercise can help improve digestion and keep your bowels moving well—thus reducing and preventing bloating. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of activity per week. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any regular exercise routine.
7. Manage your stress
Stress can negatively impact digestion and lead to bloating, according to the National Coalition on Health Care. They recommend that you incorporate stress management techniques into your daily routine, such as:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Spending time outdoors
8. Try a home remedy or over-the-counter treatment for quick relief
You’ll find several home remedies and over-the-counter treatments for bloating in the next section.
Home Remedies for Bloating Relief
We scoured the internet to find the most recommended remedies for bloating, and this is what we found:
- Herbal teas like peppermint, ginger, and chamomile can help calm a rumbling stomach and reduce bloating, according to Healthline.
- Fennel seeds are known to provide relief from bloating, you can either chew on a teaspoon of fennel seeds or make a fennel seed tea by steeping crushed seeds in hot water for 5-10 minutes, according to Healthline.
- Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help maintain a healthy balance of gut flora. Including probiotic-rich foods in your diet, such as yogurt, kefir, and kimchi, can help prevent and reduce bloating, according to Medical News Today. Alternatively, you can take a daily probiotic supplement to promote digestive health.
- Avoid tight clothing which can make you more uncomfortable when you’re bloated.
Over-the-counter medications for bloating
There are several over-the-counter (OTC) medications that can provide relief from bloating, according to Healthline. Some options include:
- Antacids: These medications can help neutralize stomach acid and reduce gas production. Examples are Tums, Rolaids, and Maalox.
- Simethicone: This medication works by causing gas bubbles to merge, making it easier for your body to get rid of trapped gas. Gas-X and Mylanta Gas are two examples of simethicone-based products that you can find at your local drugstore or retail pharmacy.
- Alpha-galactosidase supplements: These can help break down complex carbohydrates found in certain foods, making them easier to digest. Beano is a popular example.
Remember to follow the instructions on the label and consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have any concerns or questions about using over-the-counter medications for bloating relief.
Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol
Smoking and excessive alcohol intake can both lead to bloating. Both substances can interfere with the digestion process and can irritate your stomach lining, according to WebMD. Cutting down on these habits can help you improve your overall health, as well as minimize bloating.
When to Seek Urgent Care For Bloating
Although most cases of bloating go away on their own or with home treatment, there are some cases when you should consider getting medical attention. The Cleveland Clinic recommends seeing a doctor if:
- Your bloating gets progressively worse
- Your bloating persists for more than a week
- Your bloating is accompanied by persistent pain, nausea, or diarrhea
- Your bloating is accompanied by fever, vomiting, or bleeding
If you’re experiencing bloating with any of the red flags listed above, going to urgent care can help you get relief quickly and diagnose any underlying problems. Find and book an appointment with your local urgent care using Solv.
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- 18 Ways to Reduce Bloating. (October 4, 2023) https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322525
- 12 Proven Ways to Reduce Bloating. (October 4, 2023) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/proven-ways-to-reduce-bloating
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- What Exercise is Right For Me? (October 4, 2023) https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/go-red-get-fit/what-exercise-is-right-for-me
- Can Stress Cause Bloating? (October 4, 2023) https://nchc.org/health/digestion/can-stress-cause-bloating/
- 8 Herbal Teas to Help reduce Bloating. (October 4, 2023) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/tea-for-bloating
- Why Does Alcohol Make Me Bloated? (October 4, 2023) https://www.healthline.com/health/alcohol-bloating
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