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What Are the Causes of Abdominal Pressure?

Ascites causes fluid to build up in the abdomen that can lead to abdominal pressure.
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  • Written By: Misty Knight-Rini
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 16 July 2014
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Stomach problems are often the source of abdominal pressure, but problems with any of the critical organs found in the abdomen can be the cause. Abdominal pressure often results from bloating, overeating or constipation, issues that typically resolve themselves within a short period. In women, abdominal pressure during pregnancy can sometimes be a result of the uterus expanding. It can also be a sign of preterm labor, ectopic pregnancy, or other pregnancy complications. Other serious causes of abdominal pressure include blood clots and hernias, both of which require immediate medical attention.

Bloating — often a result of swallowing air, overeating, or constipation — are the most common causes of abdominal pressure. All three ailments can usually be remedied at home. Drinking green tea, for instance, can help soothe the digestive tract. Eating fiber-rich foods and consuming smaller portions of food can also help. If none of this works, over-the-counter medications and supplements are available to help with both bloating and constipation.

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It is typical for a woman to feel a range of movements and changes in her abdomen during pregnancy. One such change is the expansion of the uterus, which creates a physical sensation ranging from pressure to mild pain, depending on the woman. Serious pregnancy complications that are associated with abdominal pain are usually linked to more severe pain, and mild abdominal pressure is rarely something to worry about. Pregnancy can be hard to navigate, though, so it is best for a pregnant woman who is experiencing abdominal pressure to consult her doctor to ensure the health of both her and her baby.

On rare occasions, abdominal pressure is a sign of a serious problem. Ascites occurs when excess fluids build up in the spaces between abdominal tissues. Ascites can be a sign of problems elsewhere in the body, such as blood clots, hernias, or cirrhosis. In addition to a bloated feeling, shortness of breath may accompany ascites because of the pressure placed on the diaphragm by the fluid build-up.

All of the conditions that cause ascites require medical attention. Abdominal pressure that lasts for more than a short period of time and is not helped by a change in diet or over-the-counter supplements should be evaluated by a physician. A doctor will evaluate the symptoms that go with the pressure, run tests to rule out possible causes, and create a treatment plan to eliminate the pressure and any underlying causes.

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