Stomach bloating: Your swelling may signify this digestive condition – are you at risk?

Stomach bloating describes the uncomfortable sensation that typically follows an overindulgence in certain foods. People tend to experience a stretchy, puffy sensation in their tummy and painful abdominal cramps.  Cutting out gassy culprits normally does the trick. However, tummy swelling can also signify an underlying digestive conditions known as diverticular disease and diverticulitis. 

Diverticular disease and diverticulitis are related digestive conditions that affect the large intestine (bowel).

As the NHS explained: “Diverticula are small bulges or pockets that can develop in the lining of the intestine as you get older.

“Most people with diverticula don’t get any symptoms and only know they have them after having a scan for another reason.

“When diverticula cause symptoms, such as pain in the lower tummy, it’s called diverticular disease.”

According to the health body, bloating is a symptom of diverticular disease and diverticulitis.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Tummy pain, usually in your lower left side, that tends to come and go and gets worse during or shortly after eating (emptying the bowels or passing wind eases it)
  • Constipation, diarrhoea, or both
  • Occasionally, mucus in the poo

It’s not known exactly why some people get diverticular disease, but it seems to be linked to age, diet and lifestyle, and genetics, said the NHS.

Not getting enough fibre in the diet can increase a person’s risk of developing diverticular disease and diverticulitis.

Eating a high-fibre diet can also help ease the symptoms of diverticular disease, prevent diverticulitis from developing and ease the symptoms such as bloating, noted the NHS.

How can fibre-rich foods ease bloating? As Dr Oz explained: “Feasting on fibre-rich foods can push stomach-clogging materials out of the body.

“Fibre moves food through the gastrointestinal tract quickly for better digestion.”

Good sources of fibre include fresh and dried fruits and vegetables, beans and pulses, nuts, cereals and starchy foods.

According to Harvard Health, boating can also signify the following health conditions:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome, a condition characterised by a combination of symptoms (bloating, cramping, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, or constipation) that last for three or more months.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, an inflammation of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • Celiac disease, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the small intestine. It’s triggered by a protein called gluten that’s found in wheat, barley, and rye.
  • Constipation, a condition defined by fewer than three bowel movements per week, hard or dry stools, the need to strain to move the bowels, and a sense of an incomplete evacuation.
  • Gastroparesis, a sluggish emptying of food from the stomach into the small intestine.

According to Dr Oz, if a person’s bloating is interfering with daily activities, they should consult their doctor.

“It could be attributed to many “silent” disorders such as endometriosis, peptic ulcer, liver, kidney, gallbladder, celiac, thyroid, and pelvic inflammatory diseases as well as cancers such as stomach, colon, and ovarian,” he warned.

If people also notice their abdomen is persistently inflated and they are experiencing intense pain in this region, they should consult their doctor, noted Dr Oz.

A persistent feeling of fullness is also a key symptom of ovarian cancer, added the NHS.

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