What is abdominal bloating?

William B. Salt II., MD
Gastroenterology
Functional abdominal bloating is described as a feeling of excessive abdominal pressure that may or may not be accompanied by actual visible abdominal distention or enlargement. Abdominal bloating can be uncomfortable and even painful. Furthermore, when associated with abdominal distention, bloating can make dressing awkward and contribute to poor self-image. Finally, bloating may induce an urge to pass gas that can be inconvenient or embarrassing and associated with anxiety. Bloating is seen more commonly in women than in men and tends to become more prominent towards the end of the day and in the pre-menstrual period.

Abdominal bloating may be part of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) if the symptom is associated with abdominal pain and alterations in bowel habits. Bloating may also be associated with functional dyspepsia (pain or discomfort centered in the upper abdomen), making the symptom difficult to differentiate from the fullness that occurs following meals. Bloating may also be associated with gas.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome & the MindBodySpirit Connection: 7 Steps for Living a Healthy Life with a Functional Bowel Disorder, Crohn's Disease, or Colitis (Mind-Body-Spirit Connection Series.)

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome & the MindBodySpirit Connection: 7 Steps for Living a Healthy Life with a Functional Bowel Disorder, Crohn's Disease, or Colitis (Mind-Body-Spirit Connection Series.)

Fast Facts on IBS: One in five people suffers from the frustrating symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). There is no simple answer--no pill, potion, or quick fix--that will cure IBS. But help...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.