Gut health: At what point does bloating go from “normal” to concerning? – CBS News

Bloating, that uncomfortable sensation when your belly feels full and tight — we’ve all been there.

While this is a common symptom that occurs after eating certain foods, and is often due to gas, for some people it can be a more frequent occurrence. There are also instances where it can be a sign of something more troubling.

Bloating can be caused by various factors, says Dr. Kenneth Brown, gastroenterologist and host of The Gut Check podcast, including:

Other causes may include gynecological conditions and gastroparesis, a condition that causes delayed stomach emptying, according to Johns Hopkins.

In some cases, Brown says, bloating can also be a red flag for something more serious such as cancer or organ dysfunction.

How do you know when your bloating should be taken more seriously?

Brown says it’s important to be mindful of other symptoms that accompany the bloating, including abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, weight loss or vomiting.

“These symptoms could be indicators of a medical issue that requires prompt attention,” he says. “If you are experiencing consistent or recurrent abdominal bloating accompanied by other symptoms, it is crucial to seek medical assistance immediately.”

If you have more minor bloating issues, Brown still suggests seeking help instead of ignoring it.

“Bloating can indicate that your digestive system is inflamed, even if you do not have alarming symptoms. This inflammation, if left untreated, can lead to chronic diseases even years later,” he says.

By consulting a health care professional, you can seek out the best course of action for your body and symptoms.

“Your doctor can conduct a thorough physical examination, order additional tests or imaging studies and determine the root cause of your bloating,” he explains. “With a better understanding of your specific symptoms and medical history, your doctor can suggest
appropriate treatment options to relieve your symptoms and prevent potential health risks.”

Typically, the first line of treatment for preventing bloating is changing your diet. For example, if mild constipation is the problem, a fiber-rich diet, water and exercise may help.

“Exercise might be the last thing on your mind when your stomach hurts, but a brisk 10- or 15-minute walk can do wonders,” Dr. Roshini Raj, gastroenterologist and coauthor of “What the Yuck?” previously told CBS News about bloating. “If you don’t exercise, your intestines become sluggish, which can lead to cramping and constipation.”

More chronic constipation and other conditions, however, “require medical treatment, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about your bloating symptoms,” Johns Hopkins notes.

This content was originally published here.

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