Abdominal fullness or bloating occurs when excess gas builds up in the digestive tract.
Common causes of gas include:
- Swallowed air. If swallowed air is not burped up, it passes through the digestive tract and is released through the anus as gas (flatus). Excessive air swallowing may cause hiccups.
- Gas-producing foods and drinks, such as beans, broccoli, carbonated drinks, and beer. The amount of gas that different foods cause varies from person to person.
- Constipation. This can cause bloating but generally does not increase gas.
- The side effects of medicines or supplements, such as opioid pain medications, vitamins, iron supplements, and many medications that are used to treat constipation.
- Changing hormone levels. Many women feel bloated right before their periods because their bodies retain fluid.
- Weakened abdominal muscles caused by pregnancy or abdominal surgery.
Occasionally, excess gas and bloating may be caused by a more serious medical problem, such as a bowel obstruction, liver problems, gallbladder disease, or cancer.
Treatment depends on what is causing the problem. Call your doctor for a checkup if you have abdominal fullness or bloating that has not gotten better or gone away with home treatment.
Current as of: June 26, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor, MD, MMEd, FRCPC - Emergency Medicine