Common causes of bloating and how you can address it
Bloating is often described as a “heavy and uncomfortable feeling” in the stomach and feeling full . Its severity can vary widely, ranging from mild discomfort to severe abdominal pain.
Lab testing is a way to help you uncover the cause of bloating. With Everlywell at-home lab tests, you can easily check potential food sensitivities, thyroid hormones—and more.
Here are some common causes of bloating.
Food sensitivities are delayed (up to 48 hours), non-life-threatening immune responses to specific foods. A food sensitivity is different from a food allergy or food intolerance. Food sensitivities can lead to a bloated belly after you eat certain foods and can be uncovered with a food sensitivity test along with a temporary elimination diet and add-back challenge. Other possible food sensitivity symptoms may include skin issues, brain fog, fatigue, and headaches.
Thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism—a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough hormones—can result in bloating, as well as constipation, diarrhea , heartburn, and nausea . In the U.S., Hashimoto’s disease is the main cause of hypothyroidism . Test your thyroid hormones.
Overeating—as well as eating too quickly—can cause a bloated stomach because eating and drinking leads to the accumulation of air in the GI tract due to the act of swallowing. Bloating after eating is also common because increased digestion produces gas .
Dietary intolerances are possible reasons for increased gas and bloating. People with lactose intolerance can experience increased gas, bloating, and diarrhea after consuming dairy products. This is due to their body’s inability to effectively break down the sugar (lactose) in milk products .
An abnormal gut microbiome can cause increased bloating. The balance of microbes within the GI tract plays a key role in digestion. Researchers have found that some patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have altered populations of gut microbes in their stool . A greater number of certain microbes can result in more fermentation and gas production, which may cause bloating .
Constipation slows down stool movement in the digestive tract —so food spends a longer amount of time in the intestines, leading to gas and bloating.
Regular thyroid screening is key: A healthy thyroid is important for many of your body’s functions (and thyroid disorders are a known cause of bloating). The American Thyroid Association recommends thyroid screening in adults beginning at age 35 years and every 5 years after .
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder characterized by symptoms of abdominal pain and irregular bowel movements. Symptoms can often be managed through diet, lifestyle changes, and medication .
Celiac disease is an immune reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. The immune response caused by eating gluten can lead to damage in the small intestine. Dietary changes, specifically a gluten-free diet, can help improve your symptoms .
Constipation is characterized by infrequent bowel movements. Symptoms include fewer than three bowel movements a week, straining during bowel movements, and abdominal pain.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. It includes disorders such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and unintentional weight loss .
Food sensitivity and bloating: Food sensitivities may contribute to bloating, but it can be hard to determine the exact foods you’re sensitive to. Fortunately, results from the Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test can help guide a temporary elimination diet followed by an add-back challenge, so you can more easily discover what foods may be causing you uncomfortable symptoms.
Seek medical treatment if bloating frequency increases suddenly and continues long-term. This could indicate a chronic condition like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
A healthcare provider may recommend a number of therapies to address bloating symptoms. Commonly used drugs to treat bloating include antispasmodics (which suppress muscle spasms), gas-reducing agents (like simethicone), and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) . They may also recommend specific dietary interventions .
How common is bloating? Abdominal bloating is estimated to affect up to 30% of people in the United States .
Bloating remedies include dietary changes and over-the-counter treatments. A low FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) diet is a common option.
Over-the-counter remedies include probiotics and gas-reducing agents like simethicone. Probiotics may support having a more diverse gut microbiome to aid with relieving bloating, and simethicone is a common anti-gas medication.
How can I get rid of bloating?
One of the most common ways to get rid of a bloated stomach is through dietary changes, such as eliminating specific triggers from your diet. Over-the-counter remedies like probiotics or gas-reducing agents can help short-term. Be sure you talk with your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing chronic bloating.
How can I reduce bloating?
To reduce stomach bloating, consider using remedies like simethicone and probiotics for short-term relief.
How to relieve bloating fast?
When you feel bloated after a meal, certain remedies may reduce bloating quickly. Movement from exercise can help clear out gas and stimulate the digestive system—and over-the-counter options like probiotics and gas-reducing medications (like simethicone) may also help.
Why am I so bloated?
Overeating, weight gain, dietary intolerances, or constipation are often the culprits of bloating. However, chronic issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease, could cause symptoms of bloating and should be addressed by a medical professional.
What causes bloating?
Bloating has many different possible causes—including food sensitivities, hypothyroidism (a thyroid disorder), overeating (or eating too quickly), and constipation.