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Bloating: 8 Symptoms, 12 Causes & 9 Treatments Of Meteorism

Meteorism is an excess of air or gases in the digestive tract. The problem is also known as bloating or flatulence. Find out below where a bloated stomach comes from and what you can do about it.

Typical for a bloated stomach: Although there is a lot of air in the stomach, it does not go away excessively in the form of flatulence ("bowel winds"). The subjective feeling of those affected is decisive for the diagnosis of meteorism. They feel uncomfortably bloated and often also have abdominal cramps.

Symptoms of a bloated stomach

Symptoms of a bloated stomach

Meteorism causes far too much air to accumulate in the abdomen, which then cannot escape in sufficient quantities. This creates very unpleasant complaints.

1. Bulging, round belly. Typical of meteorism is an unusually bulging belly with a tightly taut abdominal wall. Many sufferers find this symptom very uncomfortable.

2. Abdominal pain. The excessive air in the intestines can cause severe abdominal pain. The upper abdomen is often painful, but intestinal cramps are also possible.

3. Pressure on the stomach. If the air in the stomach pushes upwards, you can feel it through an uncomfortable stomach pressure. Loss of appetite or nausea are possible consequences.

4. Frequent belching and increased intestinal winds. Part of the air in the intestine can escape through belching, another part goes away in the form of flatulence. Both can be reinforced. In meteorism, however, this discharge of air is not enough, a large amount of air still remains in the stomach.

5. Constipation or other bowel irregularities. Constipation can exacerbate or cause the problem: Neither feces nor air can leave the bowel in sufficient quantities. However, some people also report other irregular stool, for example diarrhea.

6. Bowel sounds. The air moving in the intestines can make noises, for example gurgling. This is very uncomfortable for many of those affected, especially in society.

7. Feeling of fullness. The air in the digestive tract creates an uncomfortable feeling of fullness.

8. In extreme cases, symptoms similar to those of a heart attack. If the bloated stomach is very pronounced and the air in the stomach pushes upwards, severe pain can result. Symptoms similar to a heart attack are also possible: chest pain, shortness of breath and dizziness. If you have symptoms like this, you should always inform an emergency doctor.

Causes of meteorism: where the air in the abdomen comes from

Causes of meteorism: where does the air in the abdomen come from?

Excessive air gets into the intestine in two different ways: either the person swallows too much air while eating or too much gas is produced in the intestine. The causes for this can be varied, often several of them come together.

Unfavorable eating habits

When eating and drinking, air always gets into the stomach. Usually, however, the amount is so small that the body can handle it without any problems. Some of the air enters the lungs via the blood and is simply exhaled. Another part comes off in the form of intestinal winds, some very quickly when belching. However, those who have poor eating habits may swallow too much air. These include these factors:

  • eating too hastily and not drinking properly
  • Distraction while eating, for example by watching TV or using a smartphone
  • talking intensely while eating
  • frequent chewing of gum

Food that promotes gas

When certain foods are digested, a particularly large number of gases are produced. These include, for example:

  • carbonated drinks
  • Types of cabbage, for example sauerkraut, Brussels sprouts or savoy cabbage
  • Legumes such as beans, peas or lentils
  • Onions, garlic and leeks
  • raw fruits and vegetables in large quantities
  • fresh bread and whole grain products (especially if you are not used to it)
  • milk and milkproducts

Food intolerance

Food intolerance as a cause of meteorism

If the intestine cannot digest certain food components, this can be seen in indigestion, among other things. Increased accumulation of gas in the abdomen is one of the possible symptoms. The exact causes are different: With one Gluten intolerance the small intestine is permanently inflamed and irritated.

At a Lactose intolerance there is no inflammation, but the lactose is not broken down sufficiently in the small intestine. In the large intestine, it then comes into contact with the bacteria of the intestinal flora, which produce a large amount of gases during digestion.

Flabby abdominal muscles

If the abdominal muscles are too weak, the stomach can expand curve forward more easily and hold larger amounts of gases. The body gets rid of the air more poorly and the symptoms of meteorism mentioned above arise.

Stress and mental stress

Stress and mental stress

Swallowing air can appear as a symptom of inner restlessness and stress and transport large amounts of air into the digestive tract. However, psychological factors also play a role in other ways:

  • Those who are constantly stressed eat more quickly and swallow more air in this way.
  • So-called masked depression does not show itself in the typical symptoms, but causes various physical complaints. This also includes feelings of tension and pain in the abdomen, which can be very similar to meteorism.

Irritable bowel syndrome

The so-called irritable bowel syndrome can have different funfunctional intestinal problems occur. Irritable bowel syndrome is not dangerous, but the symptoms are often very stressful for those affected.

Incorrect colonization of the small intestine

A large number of different bacteria live in the intestine, which together form the intestinal flora. Most of the intestinal flora is located in the large intestine, where it performs important functions in digestion and for the immune system. However, that can happen too many bacteria in the small intestine to settle. There they come into contact too early with food that has not yet been digested and when they decompose they form large amounts of gas.

Disorders of the intestinal flora

The intestinal flora itself can also be disturbed. When the balance of bacteria changes, it can change harmful microorganisms that lead to various digestive problems. Causes of a disturbed intestinal flora can be, among other things, poor nutrition or previous antibiotics. You can find out here how you can build up your intestinal flora with probiotics.

Inadequate "stool hygiene"

In children in particular, unhealthy bowel movement habits can be (partly) responsible for meteorism. The main problem is to defecate first suppress and then insufficient time for emptying to take. Such habits can result in abdominal pain and meteorism.


Another possible cause of meteorism is an inflammation of the stomach lining, also known as gastritis. Other symptoms of gastritis are stomach pain and Indigestion. Often, however, there are hardly any symptoms, so the bloated stomach may be the only indication of an inflammation of the stomach lining.

More serious illnesses

In most cases, the causes of the meteorism are harmless. Rarely, however, there can also be serious illnesses, for example a Intestinal obstruction, one Cirrhosis of the liver, one Heart failure or one Pancreas disease. If the symptoms occur frequently or very suddenly, you should therefore consult a doctor to clarify the cause.

Three-month colic in babies

Bloated belly in babies

Bloated stomach symptoms can also occur in infants, often with great restlessness and prolonged periods of crying. In many cases it is a manifestation of the so-called three-month colic.

These ailments mainly have to do with the Adaptation of the child's digestive tract to do with the new form of nutrition (milk food instead of nutrition via the umbilical cord). After about three months, this change is complete and the symptoms usually improve significantly.

Risk of laxative abuse

Anyone who repeatedly suffers from a bloated stomach often considers constipation to be the cause. The use of laxatives seems obvious. However, these drugs are anything but harmless in the long run.

Taking laxatives too often can lead to chronic diarrhea. In addition, constipation and flatulence can increase: The constant "help" makes the intestine sluggish and no longer transports the food sufficiently. In order to speed up digestion, laxatives are then required, which further exacerbate the problem. Other possible consequences are Electrolyte deficiency and Damage to the intestinal lining.

Therefore, take laxatives only occasionally for acute symptoms and ask your doctor for advice if you need the medication more often.

When to the doctor

The fact that the stomach is bloated every now and then after a large meal is nothing to worry about. However, you should consult a doctor if ,,,

  • the symptoms occur very frequently and also after normal sized servings,
  • the problems are very severe and occur suddenly,
  • other symptoms are added, for example diarrhea or constipation, abdominal pain or flatulence,
  • bloody diarrhea occurs (in such a case you should contact your doctor immediately).

This is how the doctor diagnoses the bloated stomach

This is how the doctor diagnoses the bloated stomach

The doctor diagnoses meteorism through questioning and physical examinations. After describing the symptoms and palpating the abdomen, the search for the cause begins. There are different methods for doing this. On the one hand, the plays here again survey ("Anamnesis") plays an important role. With specific queries, the doctor clarifies, for example, whether the symptoms occur after certain foods or when there is a lot of stress and whether there are other symptoms.

If the problems don't get better, or if you have more symptoms, then a Gastroscopy or small intestine be necessary. The doctor pushes a tube with a camera into the stomach under local anesthesia. The tube can be turned and controlled from the outside so that all areas of the stomach and, if necessary, the small intestine are visible. The doctor then takes tissue samples from the stomach, which can be examined more closely later.

Getting rid of bloat: what to do

What can be done against the bloated stomach?

Depending on the cause, there are different ways to treat the bloated stomach. Often times, simple changes in habit like the following will help.

Eat regularly and slowly

Your problems may improve significantly if you make sure to eat calmly. Create stress-free conditions, concentrate on your meal and chew every bite well. Much less air is drawn into the stomach with this type of food. Besides, you should be up regular meal times Pay attention and especially avoid over-lavish meals in the evening.

Reduce irritating foods

Reduce irritating foods

Some foods can promote a bloated stomach, for example coffee, strong carbonated drinks, Sweeteners and flatulent foods like cabbage, beans or onions. In many cases, if you cut down on these foods, the symptoms will also improve.

Avoid incompatible foods

If you suffer from a food intolerance, you should eliminate the corresponding foods from your menu. At a Gluten intolerance it is important to completely avoid gluten. At a Lactose intolerance small amounts are often well tolerated. See a doctor or nutritionist to explain exactly what to look for.

Probiotics for the intestinal flora

Contains probiotics and prebiotics "Healthy" bacteriausually found in the intestinal flora. If this is out of whack, probiotics can help improve the intestinal flora.

Lose weight and build muscle

Overweight and one too weak abdominal muscles can favor meteorism. Therefore, you should lose weight and specifically strengthen the muscles in the abdominal wall. These measures can make the symptoms go away.

Defoaming drugs

Defoaming drugs

Usually gases can be absorbed and discharged through the stomach and intestinal wall. However, if the gas build-up is made up of small-bubble foam, it may block the stomach and intestinal walls. These can then neither process the gases nor the chyme sufficiently and transport them away. Defoaming drugs cause the foam to break down. The resulting larger air bubbles can be more easily absorbed by the body. Defoaming drugs are for example in the form of Chew tablets available.

Caraway seeds, fennel and anise as tea

The combination of caraway, fennel and anise seeds has proven itself in the treatment of indigestion. Teas made from these seeds work relaxing and promote digestion.

Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome

If the meteorism is based on irritable bowel syndrome, this must be treated separately. Depending on the characteristics, a Diet change sufficient. Also are different preparations available that can be used in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. If psychological aspects play a role (which is not uncommon in irritable bowel syndrome), an psychotherapy help.

Warmth in the acute case

Many sufferers find warmth in a bloated stomach as pleasant. For example, get one Hot water bottle on the belly.

Searching for the right treatment with patience

Searching for the right treatment with patience

If the bloated stomach only occurs every now and then, those are described Home remedies and Changes in habit in many cases sufficient. However, if the symptoms keep recurring, the search for the cause is inevitable. If only the symptoms are treated, the results are usually not very satisfactory.

Once you have identified the causes together with your doctor, an effective treatment of meteorism is also possible in most cases, so that the symptoms no longer occur or only occur rarely. But you need a little patience in the search: Because there are so many different causes and the symptoms are so unspecific, it often takes a little to track down the real problems. Then nothing stands in the way of an effective therapy.