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Distended Abdomen & Bloating – Knowing The Difference Could Save Your Life

bloatingA distended abdomen and bloating are often confused as being the same condition.

This is easy to do, because both can be caused by excess gas building up in your abdominal area.

But, there’s a big difference.

The definition of the word distended or distention is to swell or swell from.

In relation to your abdomen, this means  your stomach physically swells outwards – you can actually see the change in shape.

On the other hand, bloating is different because it describes a ‘feeling‘ of swelling – not the physical aspect of it.

Therefore, a distended abdomen describes your stomach physically swelling up, whereas bloating can give you the feeling of swelling or fullness, but physically your stomach remains flat.

Common Causes Of Abdominal Distension

Between these two, an abdominal distension is considered more serious. Too much gas can cause a distension,  but there are other causes including excessive fluid or swollen tissue.

A distended stomach can happen occasionally or develop into a chronic condition. The difference is important as it can determine true cause of the distension.

If the distension comes and goes, it can mean your digestive systems ability to digest food properly has been compromised in some way.

Undigested food is often responsible for excessive gas, bloating, abdominal pains and constipation.

Undigested food ferments in the gut and this produces a build up of toxic gases that stretch your intestinal tract, resulting in that uncomfortable bloating feeling.

Other causes of gas can include;

  • not chewing food thoroughly before swallowing
  • eating fruits straight after a meal of proteins and carbohydrates
  • long gaps between meals
  • eating large portions
  • lack of exercise

On the other hand, if you’re distension happens regularly and without relief it could indicate a more serious underlying health issue that may be the result of;

  • excessive fat around the abdominal area
  • fluid retention
  • food allergies
  • colitis
  • celiac disease
  • gastric reflux disease
  • chronic constipation
  • organ swelling e.g. pancreattis
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • a tumor

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