The so-called “puffy belly” is a condition in which the belly becomes enlarged compared to normal size. Bloating may occur for a variety of reasons. Although it causes considerable inconvenience and discomfort, you should not worry too much about your health: this phenomenon is very common.
When you need expert advice
If you find yourself with a puffy belly, the causes of discomfort can be easily established by remembering that you ate during the day and how your daily activities differed from the usual activities. Nevertheless, there are a number of signs by which one can judge the potential danger of a given condition. Call your doctor and make an appointment if your abdomen continues to grow in size over time or if the disorder is accompanied by additional symptoms, such as fever or nausea. There is an urgent need to seek medical attention in case of severe diarrhea or if there are traces of blood in the stool. Be sure to tell your doctor if you can not eat and eat without discomfort for eight or more hours.
Puffy belly: causes
The abdomen is able to expand in breadth for many reasons: from overeating and up to pregnancy. In most cases, only a doctor can make an accurate diagnosis and determine the unambiguous cause of bloating.
The most common culprits of this discomfort are overeating and gas accumulation. As the nervous habit of swallowing air with food, as well as eating foods rich in fiber, leads to increased gas formation. If the gases do not find a way out of the abdominal cavity, they can inflate it to an impressive size. There are also mild pathological conditions leading to increased gas formation. This is irritable bowel syndrome and lactose intolerance.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
If the stomach is puffed up and hard, and the patient is constantly suffering from pain in the form of colic, it may be irritable bowel syndrome. It also causes bloating and gas formation. According to the National Institutes of Health of the USA, every sixth American suffers from the symptoms of this disorder.
Individual lactose intolerance is diagnosed when it is impossible to adequately assimilate lactose (sugar contained in dairy products) by the patient's body. Symptoms of this condition include gas and bloating. The causes and treatment of such a swelling are based, of course, on taking into account the indicated peculiarities of the organism and exclusion from the diet of natural dairy products. According to research conducted at the US National Center for Biotechnology, lactose intolerance is rarely seen among Caucasians. Natives from Asia, Africa and Latin America are at risk.
Ascites, or abdominal dropsy, is a condition in which excess fluid accumulates inside the abdominal cavity, forming an inflated abdomen. Most often this occurs in liver diseases, such as cirrhosis (a disease in which connective tissue accumulates in the liver). As a rule, at the first stage of development of ascites, symptoms and signs of pathology are completely absent. As fluid accumulates, the belly begins to grow in size. Pain syndrome is not characteristic of abdominal dropsy, but it can cause considerable inconvenience to the patient.
Less common causes
A heavily inflated abdomen may be a consequence of other, less common diseases and conditions. These include:
- intestinal congestion;
- cyst in the ovary;
- weight gain.
Depending on the root cause of discomfort, bloating can be treated both with medication, under the supervision of a doctor, and independently, at home. If the unpleasant condition is caused by overeating, you just need to wait until all the food is absorbed in the stomach. To prevent this problem from occurring in the future, you should slightly limit the amount of products consumed at one time. In addition, experts recommend chewing food as slowly as possible, so that it is easier to digest and assimilated by the body.
If a puffy belly is bothering you because of gas, try to avoid eating foods that contribute to this undesirable process. Among them are beans and cruciferous vegetables (for example, broccoli). Refuse from carbonated drinks and drinking through a straw. Slow chewing of food also helps prevent swallowing air - this is a good measure to combat gas formation.
A number of medications dispensed from a pharmacy without a prescription from a doctor can also be used for bloating. The drug, the main active ingredient of which is simethicone, will be the most effective. It should be remembered, however, that simethicone is effective only when gas accumulates in the stomach and is absolutely powerless against intestinal colic.
If bloating is caused by individual lactose intolerance, dairy products should be avoided. In irritable bowel syndrome, try increasing your own resistance to stress, as well as the total amount of food rich in fiber. If you have ascites (abdominal dropsy), if possible, observe bed rest and try to reduce the amount of water consumed. These measures will allow the body to quickly get rid of excess fluid.
If rest and reduction of water in the diet do not contribute to the disappearance of symptoms, the doctor will most likely recommend taking diuretics (“Torasemide”, “Furosemide”, “Piretanid”). Drugs in this group help the kidneys remove more fluid that causes bloating. In rare cases, infection accumulates in the fluid that has accumulated in the abdominal cavity - for the treatment of this complication, doctors prescribe antibiotics depending on the type of pathogen that caused the illness.
If a puffy abdomen is a consequence of irritable bowel syndrome or lactose intolerance, follow the above recommendations. These conditions cannot be treated with medication.