The stomach is an organ that connects esophagus with the intestine. It is the vital structure wherein primary digestion of food we eat occurs. It is a muscular pear shaped organ that can expand to any size while filled with food/drink. The stomach is located in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen and releases several digestive secretions and enzymes helping in the process of digestion. Bloating sensation is a feeling of fullness in the stomach. This can be experienced by many people and they feel “full” after eating little food. Your stomach can expand up to 3 times or even 4 times when you are eating a tasteful dinner. Since there is no bone in the abdomen, the stomach can expand any-fold with food, gas or fluids. The entire abdomen can distend with food or gas and is described as distended stomach. In common terms distended stomach is called as bloated stomach or swollen stomach.
Distended Stomach Symptoms :
- Feeling of fullness in the stomach
- Moderate to severe pain in the abdomen
- Constant belching and burping
- Gurgling of stomach
- Difficulty in breathing when you are lying down
- Sudden increase in weight
- Reduced appetite
- Heartburn and acid reflux
- Nausea and vomiting
Causes Of Distended Stomach :
Some of the causes of distended stomach are given here :
- Fluid Accumulation :
Excess of fluid build-up in the abdomen is known as ascites in medical terms. This condition can happen due to several factors including the liver problems like cirrhosis, liver infection and overuse of alcohol. Fluid gets accumulated and fills the entire space between the vital organs and lining of the abdomen.
- Peritonitis :
A soft thin layer of tissue covers the entire organs present in the abdominal cavity, which is called as peritoneum. The condition of inflammation (swelling) of inner lining of abdomen is known as peritonitis. This is a serious condition warranting immediate medical attention. This can occur due to several reasons like kidney problems, liver infection, bacterial or fungal infections, appendicitis, rupture in the colon, pancreatitis and diverticulitis.
- Internal Bleeding :
Rupture in the blood vessel, failure of blood clotting and intake of certain medications can cause internal bleeding in the abdomen. Any injury or trauma to the abdomen can affect the organs inside leading to internal bleeding. Gradual collection of blood can exert pressure on the internal organs thus impairing their function (hematoma) and in some cases excess loss of blood would cause hemorrhagic shock leading to brain damage or even death.
- Peptic Ulcers :
Irritation and inflammation of the mucosal lining and formation of sores in the stomach is described as peptic ulcers. Bacterial infection and overuse of NSAID’s can induce peptic ulcers causing distended stomach.
- Trauma or Injury :
Any sudden blow and trauma to the abdomen can affect the normal functions of the stomach causing bloated stomach. Accidental injury can seriously interrupt the functions of the abdominal cavity.
- Hernia :
The condition in which the abdominal wall gets weakened allowing some parts of the abdomen to protrude is known as hernia. A part of the intestine or tissues can bulge creating an opening in the weak spots of the abdominal wall causing bulging of stomach (distended stomach), difficulty in eating, pain/discomfort in the affected area.
- Liver Problems :
Cirrhosis (scarring) of liver, liver infections, alcoholic liver disease and hepatomegaly (enlarged liver) can cause bloated stomach with pain.
- Heart Problems :
Sudden high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, myocarditis, and heart valve defects can cause distension of stomach along with other symptoms.
- Gallbladder Problems :
Formation of stones in the gallbladder, gallbladder cancer and inflammation can cause distended stomach with pain.
- Kidney Problems :
Polycystic kidney, tumor in the kidneys and kidney infection can affect the normal functions of the digestive tract leading to bloated feeling in the stomach with severe pain in the right upper quadrant.
- Colon :
Any disease, infection or block in the colon can certainly cause pain in the stomach and bloated feeling. Conditions like diverticulosis, cancer in the colon and colitis can cause such problems.
- Spleen :
Spleen infection and enlargement of spleen (splenomegaly) can be caused due to heart failure, lymphoma, liver cirrhosis and thrombosis causing severe pain in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen and bloated stomach.
- Stomach :
Stomach cancer and polyps in the stomach can cause pain with distended stomach.
- Pancreas :
Pancreas cancer, inflammation of the pancreas and abscess inside the pancreas can cause considerable pain in the upper left portion of the abdomen with distended stomach.
- Bladder :
Bladder infection and inflammation of the bladder can cause over-distension of the stomach.
- Reproductive Organs :
Any problem in the uterus, genitalia and scrotum can cause bulging of lower portion of the abdomen in the umbilical region. Other diseases like appendicitis, abscess or tumors in the abdomen and certain problems like irritable bowel syndrome and irritable bowel disease can cause distended stomach. Swallowing of air along with food can easily cause bloated stomach.
Home Remedies :
- Reduce taking carbonated drinks.
- Avoid talking while eating and eat slowly after chewing the food.
- Reduce the intake of gas items.
- Eat plenty of fiber rich foods to prevent constipation.
Your doctor would first complete physical exam, paying more attention to the areas of bulging abdomen. He may order for series of tests like stool analysis, blood culture, barium test, colonoscopy test, gastric emptying tests and imaging tests like X-ay and CT scan.
Distended Stomach Treatment :
Root cause of the problem should be diagnosed and treated. Treatment approach varies according to the symptoms and other health conditions. Antispasmodics like Bentyl or Levsin are effective in relaxing the muscles of the gut reducing bloated sensation. Probiotics are good in treating bacterial infection and constipation. Prokinetics are effective in reducing bloating. Antidepressants are prescribed in low dose to improve bloating and distension of the stomach. Medications like citalopram or Elavil are prescribed according to the symptoms and health condition of the patient. Check with your doctor if you have constant belching or burping due to acid reflux.