woman feeling stomach pain and laying on couch

Banish Bloating and Find Fast Relief

By Jamie Kasper, MD, Gastroenterologist—Virtua Gastroenterology – Cherry Hill

It’s safe to say that all women have felt a little bloated and gassy at times. It’s easy to recognize that uncomfortable, swollen-belly feeling that makes your pants feel tight and that leaves you seeking fast relief.

I see women every day who experience bloating—it's a common symptom with many causes. The goal is to look at all the potential causes so that I can determine the best treatment approach.

Common causes of bloating

It’s easy for women to attribute bloating to monthly hormonal changes or even blame menopause. However, it’s more likely that it’s tied to stress, diet, lifestyle, or an underlying condition.

These foods are the biggest culprits in causing bloating and gas:

  • Apples and pears
  • Artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols like sorbitol or xylitol
  • Barley, rye, or wheat products
  • Beans
  • Carbonated drinks such as soda or seltzer
  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower
  • Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Onions and garlic

These foods contain dietary fiber or specific carbohydrates, called FODMAPs, which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. FODMAPS are harder to digest and ferment quickly in the gut, leading to bloating and gas.

I recommend keeping a daily food diary that includes everything you eat and drink, as well as how you feel afterward. You may start to see patterns in what’s affecting you.

Try following a low-FODMAP diet to determine what foods trigger symptoms. Once you zero in on the culprits, you can reduce those foods in your diet or look for alternatives.

To relieve bloating, try these at-home remedies:

  • Daily probiotic, made up of live bacteria or yeast that naturally support digestive health
  • Peppermint capsules or tea, which soothe the stomach and intestines
  • Simethicone tablets, which break up gas bubbles
  • Exercises like walking or yoga

When you should seek medical help for bloating

If you’ve been feeling bloated for a few weeks and at-home remedies haven’t helped, make an appointment with a gastroenterologist. Through evaluation, bloodwork, and testing, we can zero in on the cause and offer reassurance. While bloating is bothersome, it’s treatable.

Medical causes of bloating can include:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome with constipation or diarrhea
  • Celiac sprue, an immune disorder that causes a reaction to gluten that’s usually accompanied by diarrhea and other symptoms
  • Small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO), an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestines that can cause bloating, as well as gas, diarrhea, and cramping

Treatment may include antibiotics or anti-spasmodic medication that relaxes the stomach or intestinal muscles to provide symptom relief.  

Connect with a Virtua gastroenterologist

Call 888-847-8823 to make an appointment with a Virtua gastroenterologist today.

Updated July 6, 2021

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