Ask An Expert: What Can I Do To Relieve Bloating & Stomach Distension?

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Q: What can I do to relieve bloating and stomach distension? It happens as soon as I eat or drink and usually keeps me awake at night. Does this suggest any serious medical condition?

Dr. Gboyega Oke (General Medical Practitioner) says:

You have asked me two questions within this singular request. You also mentioned that this discomfort occurs when you eat or drink, and that it keeps you awake at night. Does this apply to all kind of meals or specific types such as beans, yam, e.t.c? That would have helped me further assess the situation.

To the first part of your question, “What can I do to relieve bloating and stomach distension?”

A little understanding of how the body handles meals will help here.  Whenever we eat or drink, it goes into a sack-like organ that we call the ‘stomach.’ From here, digestive activities have already started and paste of mashed up food materials sip into the small intestines where other digestive actions are either initiated or completed.

Remaining products move into the large intestine where mostly water re-absorption takes place and the remnants are passed into the rectum for temporary storage until this is passed out as faeces through the anus. Averagely, the organ we call the stomach keeps the meals for about six to eight hours, this time duration becomes prolonged when a woman is pregnant. Other medical conditions can also affect this duration such as abnormal function of the thyroid gland, peptic ulcer diseases, food allergies or past surgeries on the stomach organ.

Anatomically speaking, when the stomach becomes filled, it distends depending on the amount of material ingested, but mark you, a strong abdominal wall muscle might not make the distension apparent; this means a weak abdominal muscle tone makes the distension more apparent than it ought too.

You said it usually keeps you awake at night. Now I will ask, is it dinner, lunch or breakfast that causes this or specific types of meals? Do you eat late? These are questions that need to be answered for me to be more specific in my response to your question.

You also asked if this suggests any serious medical conditions. My take on that is both yes and no. If your nights are not restful over time, your day will not be as peaceful and productive as it should be. You tend becoming irritable which will definitely affect your stress level at home, work and in your other relationships. Chronic insomnia i.e. a persistent lack of restful sleep over a prolonged time can lead to so many other undesirable medical conditions either psychologically or otherwise.

You claim bloating and distension occur as soon as you eat or drink, is this alcohol, water, gas pressurized fizzle drinks? Stomach distension can also be due to presence of gas either ingested or produced in the body which could be a sign of underlying ailments or allergies.

You leave me no choice but to answer you this way, so that I do not misinform or unduly cause you unnecessary anxiety, because your questions are not very specific.

My conclusion, if this is as bad as you make it sound; you need to see your health care provider ASAP.

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“Ask An Expert: What Can I Do To Relieve Bloating & Stomach Distension?”

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