What are the Most Common Causes of Indigestion and Bloating?

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  • Written By: Sarah Sullins
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2019
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Indigestion and bloating are symptoms of many medical problems. Some of the more common are lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome and menopause. Another fairly common cause of indigestion and bloating is sensitivity to certain types of food, such as those that are too greasy or too spicy for some digestive systems. Indigestion and bloating frequently occur together and many times are accompanied by gas.

The word indigestion is defined as discomfort or illness stemming from the body's inability to digest food. This can occur because of the food that people eat or how they eat it. Consuming too much food at one time, not chewing the food well enough, and eating too quickly are all things that can cause indigestion and bloating. Eating too much fatty, greasy or sugary food also can irritate a person's stomach and increase the growth of bacteria in the large intestines. The bacteria then cause a person to develop more gas, creating a bloating sensation in the stomach.


Lactose intolerance can cause indigestion and bloating shortly after a person has eaten something that has dairy in it. Vomiting, diarrhea and gas often accompany those two symptoms. This digestive disorder occurs because the small intestine does not produce the right amount of the enzyme lactase or it does not produce any at all. Symptoms can start when a person is young or may develop as he grows older. Avoiding dairy or taking a lactase supplement prior to eating dairy can help alleviate the symptoms.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition in which the body's intestinal system does not function as it should. Many sufferers have instances when they have frequent bowel movements; other times they suffer from constipation. Indigestion and bloating, along with diarrhea and cramping, are common complaints of IBS. Although it is painful and creates quite a bit of discomfort for the person experiencing it, doctors do not believe it actually causes any permanent harm to the body.

IBS is thought to be caused by problems with the colon. Symptoms can be made worse by stress, caffeine and large meals. Certain medicines and foods also can worsen IBS symptoms. It has been theorized that hormones associated with the human reproductive system also may play a role in IBS.

Women going through menopause frequently experience night sweats, hot flashes, irritability and mood swings. Indigestion and bloating also are common complaints, because having too much or too little of certain hormones in the body can lead to an assortment of problems, including excess gas. Achieving the proper balance of the right hormones for each stage of menopause is key to managing the symptoms.


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