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Why is my stomach bloated?

Andrew Bellingham

Andrew Bellingham

Pharmacist | 20+ Years | BPharm | Dip Clin Pharm

Most people feel bloated at some point, it’s very common and happens when gas builds up in your digestive system. 

Though it’s usually temporary and harmless, it can feel a little disconcerting, especially if you’re feeling bloated regularly. 

Why is my stomach so bloated?

Though you might think bloating happens when you eat too much, this isn’t always the case. In fact, there are several reasons you may be feeling bloated.

Here’s a breakdown of the different causes of bloating:


Your diet plays a significant role in digestive health and can greatly influence bloating. Consuming foods high in fibre, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can promote regular bowel movements and reduce bloating. 

However, certain foods, such as beans, lentils, broccoli, cabbage, and onions, contain carbohydrates that are difficult for the body to digest, leading to gas production and bloating in some people. 

Additionally, consuming carbonated beverages, artificial sweeteners, and high-fat foods may worsen bloating.

Swallowing air:

Believe it or not, swallowing air—whether consciously or unconsciously—can contribute to bloating. This can occur when eating too quickly, drinking through a straw, chewing gum, or talking while eating. Swallowed air can accumulate in the digestive tract, leading to bloating and discomfort.

Digestive disorders:

Certain digestive disorders can cause chronic bloating as a symptom. Conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), lactose intolerance, and celiac disease can all contribute to bloating and other gastrointestinal symptoms.

If you think you might have a digestive disorder, you should speak with your pharmacist or doctor to get a proper diagnosis – do not self-diagnose or medicate. 

Fluid retention:

In some cases, bloating may be due to fluid retention, also known as oedema. This can happen as a result of hormonal fluctuations, certain medications, kidney or liver disorders, or conditions such as heart failure or preeclampsia in pregnant women. 

It’s important to note that fluid retention typically causes generalised swelling, rather than localised bloating in the stomach.

Hormonal changes:

Hormonal fluctuations, particularly in women, can contribute to bloating, especially during certain phases of the menstrual cycle or during pregnancy. Changes in oestrogen and progesterone levels can affect fluid balance and gastrointestinal motility, leading to bloating and abdominal discomfort.

Underlying health conditions:

In some cases, persistent or severe bloating may be a sign of an underlying health condition that requires medical attention. Conditions such as ovarian cysts, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), gastrointestinal infections, or tumours can cause abdominal bloating as a symptom. 

If you experience persistent or worsening bloating, along with other concerning symptoms such as abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, or unexplained weight loss, it’s important to consult your doctor as soon as possible.

Frequently asked questions about bloated stomach

Why is my stomach always bloated?

Stomach bloating can result from diet, digestive disorders, or fluid retention. Consult a doctor for persistent bloating.

Why does my stomach feel tight and bloated?

Stomach tightness and bloating can stem from gas buildup, overeating, or digestive issues like IBS. Monitor your diet and seek medical advice if it persists.

Why is my stomach bloated and my back hurts?

In women, bloating and back pain can signal menstrual discomfort, ovarian issues, or pelvic inflammatory disease. Consult your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

A woman holds her stomach

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