Abdominal Bloating in Irritable Bowel Syndrome and its Management

Abdominal Bloating

Millions of people experience bloating and is a common complaint of people of all ages. Abdominal bloating is an uncomfortable build up of air that can form in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Apart from it affecting the quality of your life, bloating can be a warning sign of other health issues. Bloating, often accompanied by gas, could be a common symptom associated with any imbalance in the gut. Clinically significant bloating is generally defined as objective abdominal distention, which can be measured by a visible increase in abdominal girth.1

Causes of Bloating

There can be several factors that triggers abdominal bloating. One of the most common cause is the kind of food we eat. You may be ignoring signs that you’re allergic or intolerant to certain foods. Some complex carbohydrates, like high FODMAP diet (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols), that are hard to digest, can lead to discomforts including gassiness and bloating. Dairy, gluten, soft drinks, excess sugar, and processed foods are the other culprits.2

Consuming packaged foods can be another cause for bloating, due to the high salt content in these food products. Some of the simple carbohydrates such as lactose and fructose can trigger bloating.3 These can trigger bloating particularly in people that are lactose intolerant and/or people with functional gut disorders like IBS.

Gastrointestinal issues

Abdominal bloating is one of the most common symptoms in people dealing with gastrointestinal issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Functional dyspepsia (FD). About 80% of people with constipation, complain of bloating and distension either after meals or progressively throughout the day.4 Avoiding high FODMAP diet, mentioned above, has shown to have some beneficial effect. Other GI conditions like gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease will need to eliminate other food types like wheat, barley and rye.

Role of gut microbiota

The gut microbiota can play an important role in bloating. Increased bacterial fermentation in the intestine leading to increased gas production in IBS subjects are often associated with Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) in the colon. As a result, bloating increases and studies showed symptoms improved significantly when treated for SIBO. Reduced microbial diversity and stability of the gut microbiota in IBS creates an overall imbalance in the gut and this can lead to visceral hypersensitivity or heightened sensitivity of the gut.

How Can You Get Rid of Bloating?

Eating small meals and doing regular exercise is known to have benefits to improve abdominal wall muscle tone and keep bloating away. Probiotics have been shown to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of bloating. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium have shown to reduce gas production in the gut for IBS.5
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1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3816193/
2. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/bloating-causes-and-prevention-tips 3. https://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20802995,00.html
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4202369/
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15220670