Abdominal bloating is a common and uncomfortable condition that causes a person’s stomach to feel too full. Both children and adults can be affected by the condition, which makes the stomach look abnormally swollen due to trapped gases or undigested substances.
Although this health issue occurs frequently, it can nevertheless be extremely frustrating, especially when trying to discover the root cause. Below, you will learn about several things that can cause bloating, plus natural ways to fix each trigger.
1. Oral Contraceptives
If you are taking birth control pills by mouth to prevent pregnancy, they may be contributing to your bloating problem. That’s because the pills tend to affect the menstrual cycle. Nearly 85 percent of women experience bloating when they’re taking oral contraceptives, and especially around the time they’re menstruating.
This particular cause of bloating is linked to a chemical produced by the uterine lining that makes the uterine wall muscles contract. As a result, the chemical is released and causes bloating, especially when it’s distributed in large amounts.
How To Fix It:
Women can aim to cut the amount of salt they consume while on their periods. That measure should reduce water retention, which makes bloating less problematic. Calcium and magnesium supplements may also help.
However, if these kinds of dietary changes do not give the desired results, it may be smart for women to talk to their doctors and get details about alternative birth control methods that won’t cause bloating. It’s also important to keep in mind that women who go off birth control after taking the pills for a long time may find that they temporarily get bloating associated with ovulation.
2. Unintentionally Swallowing Too Much Air
Many people realize they’re swallowing air when they yawn or perhaps when breathing through their mouths. However, if you often deal with bloating due to excess gas, the problem may be happening because you’ve adopted certain seemingly harmless habits. They include drinking from a straw, munching on hard candies, drinking bubbly soda and even chewing gum.
How To Fix It:
If bloating is disrupting your life, try being especially mindful of the kinds of activities discussed above. If necessary, keep a diary that tracks how you spend your time and what you do when you’re bored. Things like chewing gum and eating candy may be things you’re especially likely to do out of boredom.
Removing a certain habit from your life because you’ve realized it makes you bloated may be frustrating at first because it probably will feel like you’re making some kind of sacrifice. However, if you’re able to prevent or at least greatly reduce the bloating due to your new behavior, you’ll probably eventually see it as a healthy, good trade-off.
3. You’re Too Anxious
People often assume they’re feeling bloated solely because of something they’re consuming, and sometimes that’s true. However, it’s also possible you’re bloated because there’s a lot of stress in your life that’s causing consistent anxiety.
Firstly, it’s important to understand it’s not feasible to assume all your bloating episodes are caused by anxiety, but if you’re highly anxious quite often, it’s worth considering anxiety as a probable cause. As mentioned above, taking in too much air can be a bloating culprit.
When people are very anxious they often begin hyperventilating and inhaling an unnatural amount of air in the process. Even if you do not actually reach the point of hyperventilation, you may still be taking in too much oxygen when trying to minimize your anxiety. That’s especially likely if you swallow too often when you’re anxious because swallowing has become a stress response.
How To Fix It:
It may be useful to work with a professional who can monitor your breathing and determine if you are, indeed, taking air in abnormally to the point where it’s causing bloating. In addition to helping with the bloating problem, measured, strategic breathing and taking care to not fall back into old habits may reduce your anxiety and give you a positive coping mechanism that helps you conquer stress.
Breathing from your abdomen can trigger a relaxation response that lowers blood pressure and heart rate plus it slows your respiration rate and metabolism. Once you become practiced at breathing correctly, you should be able to do it anywhere.
Although a book of stress-conquering breathing tips may be useful, it’s ideal to get a specialist to coach you one on one, stopping you from being counterproductive about fixing the bloating by unintentionally drawing in too much air with each breath.
4. You Respond To Caffeine Cravings Too Frequently
Many people become addicted to caffeine without even realizing it, especially if they cannot get their days started without first downing cups of coffee or soda. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it makes you urinate more often than you otherwise might, and helps rid the body of excess fluid.
At first, you may think that means caffeine would ease bloating, but it actually causes it. In addition to potentially causing dehydration, caffeine can also cause over-stimulation of your digestive system, which might not only lead to bloating, but also spasms.
How To Fix It:
Ideally, you should cut caffeine from your diet completely. However, that can be tough for some people, and if you’re finding it seemingly impossible, consider gradually reducing your intake. Try ingesting about a quarter-cup less per day until you’re completely weaned off.
Cutting back gradually should reduce potential withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and irritability. In addition, if you don’t make yourself sacrifice caffeine right away, the likelihood goes up that you’ll be able to comply with your new dietary plan, and won’t give up due to frustration and feeling discouraged.
You’re Eating Too Late At Night
It’s common to give into late-night snacking temptations from time to time, but that habit might actually be causing bloating. That’s because your stomach naturally contracts to digest food, and those contractions are tied to your circadian rhythms.
In other words, your stomach is most active earlier in the day, and less so after the sun sets. If you’re habitually eating once your stomach has become less active, you may get indigestion.
How To Fix It:
Set a schedule so you don’t eat anything past early evening, and stick to it. Some people use sunset, or shortly afterwards, as their cue for when to cease eating. Also, if you’re planning on dining out, it’s especially important to try to eat earlier, since people often consume more food when they’re away from home.
Hopefully this information helps you get to the bottom of your bloating and make progress in resolving it. Perhaps it will be comforting that all the suggested cures are naturally derived, and many of them just require you to make lifestyle changes.