Understanding Bloating: Causes, Prevention, Tips


Stomach aches are a common occurrence with various causes ranging from dietary factors to menstrual cycles and bloating. Bloating, in particular, occurs when the abdomen feels full and tight due to gas, often associated with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It's a global issue affecting people of all ages, leading to discomfort, changes in bowel habits, and more. Often mistaken for indigestion, bloating can disrupt daily activities, causing embarrassment and social withdrawal. Both adults and children can experience bloating; now, let's understand its causes, symptoms, and treatments through expert insights.

What Is Bloating And How Does One Feel When The Stomach Is Bloated?

Bloating can vary from mild discomfort to severe pain and is common for many. It may come and go, but for some, it's a persistent concern linked to digestive problems and hormonal changes. When experiencing bloating, your stomach feels tight or full, accompanied by swelling, hardness, and pain in the abdomen. Symptoms may include pain, excessive gas, frequent burping, and abdominal rumbling. 

What Causes Bloating?

Bloating largely occurs due to gas accumulation, particularly after consuming a heavy meal. This build-up of gas in the digestive system happens as undigested food breaks down or when air is swallowed while eating or drinking. Common factors contributing to bloating include rapid eating or drinking, chewing gum, smoking, and constipation. Shedding light on this and helping us understand the causes better, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist at Healthpoint Professor Dr. Laith Al-Rubaiy, shared insights and said, "Bloating occurs when there is an excess of air in the small bowel or colon. This excess can be caused by two main factors: physiological and organic."

  • Physiological causes of bloating stem from eating habits and food choices, such as eating quickly, swallowing air, and consuming gas-producing foods like beans, garlic, and onions. Lack of dietary fibre leading to constipation can also worsen bloating.
  • Organic causes involve underlying digestive issues, including conditions like celiac disease (immune reaction to eating gluten), lactose intolerance, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Inflammatory bowel disease can also disrupt normal bowel function, leading to bloating.
  • The gut microbiomeThe gut microbiome, comprising trillions of microorganisms, plays a pivotal role in digestive health. Imbalances in the gut microbiome, known as dysbiosis, can lead to bloating and other gastrointestinal symptoms. Factors such as diabetes, fatty liver, and colitis can influence microbiome composition. Diagnostic tests are necessary to assess changes in the gut microbiome and identify abnormal patterns contributing to bloating.

Besides the normal problems, medical conditions and medications are also linked to bloating, sharing insight on this, Dr. Ashwini Banerjee, Consultant Gastroenterologist at Mubadala Health Dubai, explained that infections can also exacerbate bloating symptoms. He noted: "Certain medications, including painkillers, cholesterol-lowering drugs, antidepressants and antibiotics may also induce bloating.”

What Can Reduce Bloating? 

If bloating is caused by dietary factors or hormonal changes, it typically starts to ease within a few hours to days. Constipation-related bloating continues until bowel movements resume. Drinking water, engaging in physical activity, and consuming herbal teas can promote digestion and bowel regularity, thus aiding in alleviating bloating symptoms. Adding inputs on this, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist at Healthpoint Professor Dr. Laith Al-Rubaiy, says, "Sedentary habits and stress worsen bloating. Physical activity stimulates bowel movements, preventing digestive issues. Consistent exercise, like walking 30 minutes three times a week, promotes healthy digestion. “As a gastroenterologist, I often see patients with bloating, a common issue. Mindful eating, stress management and staying active can reduce bloating, promoting gut health."

How To Prevent Bloating And Improve Gut Health 

The best approach to prevent bloating and maintain gut health is to consume a diet rich in fibre, stay adequately hydrated, and limit the intake of oily or spicy foods. Here are some helpful dos and don'ts as suggested by Consultant Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist at Healthpoint Professor Dr. Laith Al-Rubaiy, to promote digestive wellness in the long term.


  1. Eat slowly: Rushing through meals can overwhelm your digestive system. Take your time to savour each bite and chew thoroughly.
  2. Avoid overeating: Portion control is key to preventing bloating. Overeating can burden your digestive system and lead to discomfort.
  3. Choose wisely: Choose foods that are gentle on the stomach and less likely to cause gas. Incorporate lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables into your diet and minimise processed and heavy, greasy foods.
  4. Stay hydrated: Aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep things moving smoothly in your digestive tract.
  5. Manage: Stress can wreak havoc on your digestive system, leading to bloating and other discomforts. Incorporating stress-reducing activities such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises into your daily routine will help promote relaxation and gut health.


Reducing rather than eliminating certain foods and drinks can help alleviate bloating symptoms.

  1. Carbonated beverages like fizzy drinks and sparkling water can cause bloating due to excess gas, drink water or herbal teas instead.
  2. Gas-producing foods like garlic, onions, and beans are known for causing bloating you may want to consider moderating your intake of these.
  3. Spicy foods can irritate the digestive tract and worsen bloating. Enjoy them in moderation to prevent discomfort.

When To Seek Medical Help 

If bloating is accompanied by severe or prolonged abdominal pain, blood in the stools, high fevers, diarrhoea, worsening heartburn, vomiting, or unexplained weight loss, it's important to consult your doctor for further evaluation and management. These symptoms may indicate underlying medical conditions that require medical attention. Dr. Ashwini Banerjee, Consultant Gastroenterologist at Mubadala Health Dubai, adds, "Diagnostic tests such as blood tests and stool tests can pinpoint specific issues. In some cases, endoscopic procedures may be recommended to diagnose underlying gastroenterological conditions when bloating has persisted and is not improved by lifestyle changes." 

Natural Remedies On Bloating 

There are various natural remedies to alleviate bloating temporarily. Drinking hot ginger and turmeric water, as well as peppermint tea, chamomile tea, fennel water, and coriander water, can help relieve the symptoms. Adding to this, Dr Ashwini Banerjee, Consultant Gastroenterologist at Mubadala Health Dubai, says, "Consult a healthcare professional before trying natural remedies like peppermint tea, chamomile tea or activated charcoal for bloating relief, especially with underlying medical conditions. These remedies should complement, not replace, proper diagnosis and treatment."

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