How Do You Know If Bloating Is Serious?

Reviewed on 6/8/2022
A man's protruding, bloated stomach
When bloating is serious, it may be accompanied by other symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, changes in bowel habits (diarrhea, blood in stool, needing to go more frequently), fatigue, appetite changes (loss of appetite, feeling full when eating less), abdominal pain, vomiting, and fever.

Abdominal bloating is usually a result of excess gas buildup in the large intestine (colon) that causes a distended abdomen. The colon bends a lot, and when air (gas) gets trapped in the bends, it may cause bloating, cramps, or sharp pains. 

Symptoms of bloating include:

  • Abdominal distention 
  • The feeling of fullness in the belly
  • Gas (flatulence)
  • Belching

Bloating may be serious if symptoms persist or bloating is accompanied by:

See a doctor if you experience these symptoms. 

What Causes Bloating?

Causes of bloating include: 

How Is Bloating Diagnosed?

Bloating not an illness it itself but is a symptom of another underlying condition. Tests used to diagnose the cause of bloating may include: 

How Do You Get Rid of Bloating?

Treatment for bloating depends on the cause and may include:

  • Dietary changes 
    • Avoiding foods known to cause gas and bloating
    • A low FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) diet 
    • Eating more slowly 
  • Lactase supplements to help digest dairy products such as Lactaid
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines 
  • Digestive enzymes such as amylase, lipase, protease, or HCL to help relieve bloating 
  • Don’t smoke
  • Prescription medicines
Reviewed on 6/8/2022
Image Source: iStock Images