Most people have encountered that post-meal, "I need to unbutton my pants in order to breathe" feeling. But unfortunately many never get the answer to the popular question, "why do I feel bloated?" Here we dive into the many different potential causes.
Let's start with the definition of bloating:
As one study said, “bloating is primarily a sensory phenomenon, and the ability to accurately measure it in clinical practice is limited.”
Bloating is a subjective feeling, not a medical condition.
Ultimately, it’s bloating that tells you something else is going on in the gut. It is usually paired with other symptoms that make the experience different from person to person and condition to condition. For example, stomach bloating from eating late night, MSG-loaded Chinese takeout could feel very different from bloating from a bout of IBS.
Since bloating can be so subjective, while also being universal, let’s take a look at some of its many causes. (And brace yourself - there are many.)
While never fun or, erm, sexy, gas is a very normal and healthy physical experience. Normal digestive gas occurs when your intestines can’t break down certain nutrients like lactose, legumes, fructose, and complex carbohydrates and other high fiber foods.
Additionally, gas within the GI tract can develop from several additional sources, such as swallowed air, diffusion from the bloodstream, or from the variety of chemical reactions that occur within the GI tract.
Bloating from regular digestive gas is normal, but when it's severe or occurring on an ongoing basis, it could be a sign something is awry in the gut. Such as...
Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) can cause bloating, excerpt from gas located in a different region of the gut.
Our gut microbiome should exist almost entirely in the large intestine, so when bacteria make a home (and grows rapidly) in the small intestine, you’re left feeling bloated along with a host of other symptoms including diarrhea and abdominal pain. When these bacteria are fermenting foods and attempting to digest nutrients too early in the a