Stomach bloating is usually the result of eating too many gassy foods. Foods known to cause wind can clog up your gastrointestinal tract (GI) – a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus. With nowhere to go, the wind distends the stomach, causing swelling and painful stomach cramps.
If these nerves are damaged, the muscles of your stomach may not work properly and the movement of food can slow down,” explains the health body.
In addition to bloating, symptoms of gastroparesis may include:
- Feeling full very quickly when eating
- Feeling sick (nausea) and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Tummy (abdominal) pain or discomfort
How to respond
According to the NHS, you should see a GP if you’re experiencing symptoms of gastroparesis, as it can lead to some potentially serious complications.
These complications include:
- Dehydration from repeated vomiting
- Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) – where stomach acid leaks out of your stomach and into your food pipe (oesophagus)
- Malnutrition – when your body is not getting enough nutrients
- Unpredictable blood sugar levels – this is a particular risk in people with diabetes.
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Other serious causes of bloating
According to Harvard Health, colon, ovarian, stomach, and pancreatic cancer are among the cancers that can have bloating as a symptom.
Sudden bloating is a telltale sign that something serious is up, warns the health body.
“Most people who have bloating start experiencing it at a young age. But if someone is suddenly having bloating in older age, that’s sometimes a red flag that tells me something has changed and needs to be investigated,” said Dr Kyle Staller, a gastroenterologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
If sudden bloating lasts more than a few days, Harvard Health advises reporting the symptom to your doctor or gastroenterologist.
“The trick is to build up your tolerance slowly, gradually increasing portion size, so you don’t overwhelm your gut,” says Holland and Barrett.
The health body advises soaking beans before cooking and lightly cooking vegetables before eating to reduce gas.
“Some gas-promoting foods, like sugar and artificial sweeteners, should be avoided altogether,” it adds.
Ingesting activated charcoal may also provide relief for a bad bloating episode, says the European Food Safety Authority.