Bloat is a health issue in which the stomach becomes distended due to the presence of excess gas within the stomach chamber. In medical circles, bloat is often referred to as gastric dilatation-volvulus or GDV. The condition of bloat may take place for a number of different factors, and most often experienced by humans, canines, and cattle, although other animals may also undergo gastric torsion from time to time.
In many cases, bloat develops when some set of factors causes the stomach to become twisted. This effectively creates a situation where the esophagus closes off and will not allow the escape of excess gas. This means that the sufferer cannot simply burp or vomit as a means of clearing the gas from the stomach tract. The release of the gas through the bowels is also sometimes blocked as well. In severe cases, the condition may lead to what is known as a double torsion, where there are two rather than one twists that effectively block the escape of the gas.
The twisting of the stomach has a direct impact on the digestive tract or volvulus, preventing the tract from functioning properly. As pressure builds in the stomach, the tissue expands, causing a great deal of discomfort. The tension created by bloat may have both physical and emotional ramifications, as the condition can make sleep impossible, and also interfere with the processing of nutrients from food that is ingested. If left unchecked, bloat can eventually cause damage to the spleen and possibly lead to blood poisoning.
There are several reasons the condition develops. A combination of foods, or even one food, may trigger the twisting of the stomach around the digestive tract. Emotions may play a role as well, since negative emotions can impact the function of the stomach. Often, stress can be a major factor, especially when combined with the intake of foods that tend to create a lot of gas in the system.
Fortunately, there are a number of treatments that can cause the stomach muscles to relax and free the volvulus. Once this takes place, the trapped gas can escape and the distended stomach will return to normal. For humans, there are a number of over the counter medications that may help with bloat. However, if the sufferer does not seem to respond to these medications within a day or so, medical assistance should be sought quickly.