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What is Considered Excessive Bloating?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2016
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Bloating is a condition which should always be considered excessive. Although it is common and within the range of normal to experience some intestinal bloating from time to time, the pressure and pain associated with the condition are typically indicative of an underlying problem. Gas, constipation, fluid retention, and intestinal blockages are commonly associated with bloating. Therefore, any amount of bloating may be considered excessive bloating.

Nearly everyone will experience some sort of excessive bloating from time to time. Bloat may occur for a variety of reasons, the most common being some type of digestive upset. Gas is one cause of bloating and it results from intestinal gas being trapped in the digestive tract. This causes a full feeling, pain, pressure, and sometime distention. Medications may be needed to help the gas move downward toward the rectum or upward and out of the mouth.

Another form of excessive bloating is caused from water retention. This can indicate dehydration, because when insufficient fluids are consumed, the body actually hangs on to any water in the system. Dehydration is a serious condition, especially if left unchecked. No symptoms other than puffiness and a thicker feeling around the middle are generally noticed with water retention. Treatments typically only include drinking plenty of water and exercise.

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Constipation and compacted stools are also causes of excessive bloating. Remedies include laxatives, drinking plenty of water, and exercise. Eating more fiber is also generally recommended.

Although any bloating at all is usually caused by some underlying problem, it is a common occurrence and usually is not cause for any alarm. When deciding whether or not someone is suffering from excessive bloating in terms of frequency of episodes, his or her medical history is needed. Those with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome often experience frequent bouts of intestinal bloating. People without such conditions should suffer from bloat only very occasionally. Any bloating which occurs more than once every month or two may be indicative of an issue, and any more often than that could definitely signal some kind of digestive upset.

Diagnosis of excessive bloating is generally only based on patient symptoms. Frequent feelings of fullness, abdominal pain and cramps, pressure, or puffiness are all signs of bloating. If this occurs several times per month, a doctor will probably check the patient's dietary habits to ensure that proper fiber is being consumed and that he or she is eating well balanced diet.

In some rare cases, abdominal bloat can be a sign of a serious medical condition. Certain types of cancer, such as colon or ovarian cancers, may cause excessive bloating as a symptom. Another potential cause is a bowel or small intestine obstruction, both of which would require immediate treatment.

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