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Common Causes of Abdominal Bloating

We’ve all been there: you have a big night out planned and the perfect dress picked out, but you go to try it on and your belly looks at least six-months’ pregnant. It’s annoying, but there is very you can do other than pass on the slinky number and pull on a loose maxi dress instead.

Abdominal bloating is a huge problem for many women. Often, it comes and goes. You can wake up with a flat belly and look pregnant by 5 pm. Your belly may even look permanently distended. Abdominal bloating is no fun and it’s important to determine the underlying cause, especially if you have other symptoms. The following list of possible causes is not exhaustive, but it gives you a useful starting point.


Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic health condition that affects the entire digestive system. The underlying cause is not truly understood, but sufferers report stomach cramps, abdominal bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and general discomfort. Symptoms typically occur after eating food and may last for a few hours or a few days. There are over the counter products that provide IBS relief, but it is worth asking your doctor for a blood test to rule out celiac disease.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder. The body develops an immune response to gluten in the diet, which if left untreated damages the intestines. Abdominal bloating after ingesting gluten is just one of the symptoms, although not everyone with celiac disease shows symptoms. Around one in every hundred people has celiac disease and it is linked to other autoimmune disorders, including Hashimoto’s and Type 1 Diabetes.

Lactose Intolerance

People with lactose intolerance can’t digest lactose, which is a natural sugar found in dairy products, including milk. Abdominal bloating, flatulence, stomach pain and other unpleasant symptoms typically manifest after drinking or eating anything containing lactose. The best way to avoid symptoms is to stick to a dairy free diet.

Premenstrual Syndrome

Bloating is a common symptom of premenstrual syndrome. Most women experience abdominal bloating up to two weeks before their period is due. Every woman is different and some suffer more than others. The good news is that your bloating will disappear once your period arrives.


The majority of women know they are pregnant, so a swollen belly is something to be expected, but a small number don’t have a clue. If your belly feels swollen and hard, and you have other symptoms such as tender breasts, frequent urination and missed periods, take a pregnancy test if there is any chance you could be pregnant.


Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors in the uterus. They can grow quite large and cause significant abdominal bloating, pain, heavy periods, and constipation. An ultrasound can confirm whether or not you have fibroids.


Ascites is a build-up of fluid in the abdominal cavity. It will feel as if you have water sloshing around in your stomach and your abdomen will look as taut as a drum. Ascites is a sign of malignancy and liver disease, so have it checked out ASAP.

Don’t ignore abdominal bloating, as it usually has an underlying cause. Make an appointment with your doctor to have it checked out.

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