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A Doctor Responds to Questions About Abdominal Bloating

DrSugar Answers: Abdominal Bloating and Food

DrSugar is in the house and answering your questions.

Dear DrSugar,
I could use some health/dietary advice, if you have a minute. Lately I've been feeling incredibly bloated, and I know we all have a bloat-y day once in a while, but this is turning into a bloat-y fortnight. I'm starting to wonder what's going on. I'm a healthy 20-something, leading an active lifestyle, but obviously I'm doing something wrong, I suspect, food-wise. What foods should I avoid if you want to eliminate the "I just swallowed a balloon" feeling? Are there any foods known to cause bloating?
Balloon Gal

To see what DrSugar has to say on this matter,


Abdominal bloating is a very common symptom with a wide variety of causes, from something as simple as gas to something as serious as cancer. The list of common causes is long and includes overeating, gas, constipation, lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, pregnancy, and premenstrual stress syndrome. There are as many as 413 possible causes for bloating! Most causes are simple and can be treated with dietary or other lifestyle changes like avoiding gas causing foods, eating smaller meals, or recognizing lactose intolerance. Gas causing foods include beans, dairy, spinach, potatoes, fatty or rich foods, carbonated beverages and many more. For a more complete list, check out the Gas Prevention Diet, which also provides strategies for avoiding the gas inducing culprits. One of the most importantly under recognized conditions in adults is lactose intolerance, which can cause bloating, gas, and/or diarrhea.

Serious causes of bloating are by far less common, but should not be forgotten, especially in cases of long standing bloating that is not improved with simple changes in diet or lifestyle. Serious causes of bloating can include a variety of tumors, parasitic infections, celiac disease (gluten intolerance), and inflammatory bowel disease. Long standing bloating or bloating with other symptoms such as weight loss, weight gain, pain, nausea, or vomiting should certainly raise concern. If you are worried that your bloating could be the result of something more serious then you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

If you have a question for DrSugar, send me a private message here and I will forward it to the good doctor.

DrSugar's posts are for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. Click here for more details.

Spectra Spectra 9 years
I have IBS and I find that exercising regularly and eating foods high in fiber and drinking lots of water seem to keep it pretty well-controlled.
sheena sheena 9 years
Lactose intolerance is a known side effect of celiac disease because the gluten damages the villi and microvilli in the small intestine that catch and breakdown the lactose molecule. The damaged villi and microvilli can grow back when the gluten is 100% removed from the diet but the lactose intolerance symptoms can continue for a long time (up to two years to heal completely) Most of the time it takes between six months and a year for Sx to go away. I always learn interesting side notes when studying for nursing :)
okmaebe okmaebe 9 years
Another gluten-intolerance girl here. Yeah, I call it "poofy-belly" and it happens whenever I accidentally hit wheat. Probiotics lessen the time of the digestive cycle, so if you feel like it's taking too long, try that. Try really tiny meals to avoid the "food baby." And try eliminating each of the most common allergens from your diet one at a time for a week each and record the result. And if you're retaining water, check your sodium intake. Good luck!
AMP AMP 9 years
I'm always bloated too. I'm definitely lactose intolerant and am researching a bit to see if I'm also allergic to gluten.
LisaNP LisaNP 9 years
i use to have major bloating. Found out I had Celiac. Went gluten free and no more bloating.
MandeeLei MandeeLei 9 years
I'm pretty positive I have IBS. Are there any things you can do to treat it without going to the DR? I don't have insurance.
sparklestar sparklestar 9 years
I'm always bloated. Yippee for gluten and lactose intolerance!!
michlny michlny 9 years
she should try probiotics....they really help w/ digestion and the gut.
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