Stomach Bloating Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Understand stomach bloating symptoms, including 8 causes & common questions.

  1. 8 Possible Stomach Bloating Causes
  2. Real-Life Stories
  3. Stomach Bloating FAQ
  4. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  5. Statistics
  6. Related Articles

8 Possible Stomach Bloating Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced stomach bloating. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Indigestion (dyspepsia)

Indigestion, also called upset stomach, dyspepsia, or functional dyspepsia, is not a disease but a collection of very common symptoms. Note: Heartburn is a separate condition.

Common causes are eating too much or too rapidly; greasy or spicy foods; overdoing caffeine, alcohol, or carbonated beverages; smoking; and anxiety. Some antibiotics, pain relievers, and vitamin/mineral supplements can cause indigestion.

The most common symptoms are pain, discomfort, and bloating in the upper abdomen soon after eating.

Indigestion that lasts longer than two weeks, and does not respond to simple treatment, may indicate a more serious condition. Upper abdominal pain that radiates to the jaw, neck, or arm is a medical emergency.

Diagnosis is made through patient history and physical examination. If the symptoms began suddenly, laboratory tests on blood, breath, and stool may be ordered. Upper endoscopy or abdominal x-ray may be done.

For functional dyspepsia – "ordinary" indigestion – treatment and prevention are the same. Eating five or six smaller meals per day with lighter, simpler food; managing stress; and finding alternatives for some medications will provide relief.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: nausea, stomach bloating, dyspeptic symptoms, bloating after meals, vomiting

Symptoms that always occur with indigestion (dyspepsia): dyspeptic symptoms

Symptoms that never occur with indigestion (dyspepsia): vomiting (old) blood or passing tarry stools, rectal bleeding, bloody diarrhea, fever

Urgency: Self-treatment

Premenstrual syndrome

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a condition that can produce emotional and physical symptoms in women in the days leading up to their menstrual cycle. Common symptoms include bloating, cramping, headaches, irritability, fatigue, and sleep and appetite changes. These symptoms...

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Normal variation of constipation

Constipation means bowel movements which have become infrequent and/or hardened and difficult to pass.

There is wide variation in what is thought "normal" when it comes to frequency of bowel movements. Anywhere from three times a day to three times a week is considered normal.

As long as stools are easy to pass, laxatives should not be used in an effort to force the body to a more frequent schedule.

Constipation is usually caused by lack of fiber in the diet; not drinking enough water; insufficient exercise; and often suppressing the urge to have a bowel movement.

A number of medications and remedies, especially narcotic pain relievers, can cause constipation.

Women are often affected, due to pregnancy and other hormonal changes. Young children who demand low-fiber or "junk food" diets are also susceptible.

Constipation is a condition, not a disease, and most of the time is easily corrected. If simple adjustments in diet, exercise, and bowel habits don't help, a doctor can be consulted to rule out a more serious cause.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: abdominal pain (stomach ache), nausea, stomach bloating, constipation, constipation

Symptoms that always occur with normal variation of constipation: constipation

Symptoms that never occur with normal variation of constipation: vomiting

Urgency: Self-treatment

Acute gastritis

When something interferes with the protective mechanisms of the stomach, a range of problems can occur from mild indigestion to deadly bleeding ulcers. Gastritis is an umbrella term for one of the most common problems, inflammation of the stomach lining.

Symptoms include nausea or vomiting,...

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Stomach Bloating Symptom Checker

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Irritable bowel syndrome (ibs)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder of the large intestine. It is characterized by recurrent abdominal pain and bowel movement issues that can be difficult to treat. Signs and symptoms of IBS are usually not severe or life-threateni...

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Lactose intolerance

Lactose is a sugar that naturally occurs in milk. Someone is considered "lactose intolerant" when the small intestine cannot produce enough of the enzyme that digests lactose called lactase.

In primary lactose intolerance, the enzyme is produced during childhood but declines sub...

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Possible early irritable bowel syndrome (ibs)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is very common problem that affects the large intestine. It can cause stomach pain, cramps, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. Doctors think that IBS is caused by the brain sending wrong messages to the bowels, such as during times of high stress, causing physical changes. The formal criteria for this diagnosis requires 3 months of symptoms. Therefore you may have an early presentation.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, abdominal pain (stomach ache), nausea or vomiting, stool changes, constipation

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Stomach ulcer

A peptic ulcer is a sore in the lining of the stomach or the first part of your small intestine (the duodenum), which causes pain following meals or on an empty stomach.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, moderate abdominal pain, abdominal cramps (stomach cramps)

Symptoms that never occur with stomach ulcer: pain in the lower left abdomen

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Real-life Stories

Once your story is reviewed and approved by our editors, it will live on Buoy as a helpful resource for anyone who may be dealing with something similar. If you want to learn more, try Buoy Assistant.

The stories shared below are not written by Buoy employees. Buoy does not endorse any of the information in these stories. Whenever you have questions or concerns about a medical condition, you should always contact your doctor or a healthcare provider.

Submitted Stories

Bloating and moving sensation

Female age 48! For many months, it feels like there is something twisting below my belly button. Since about January I've had a lot of bloating and been pretty gaseous. Get odd sharp pain higher up, just above belly button. Feeling bit sick for 7 days now with dull headache sometimes. In the past few weeks, symptoms have felt a bit worse. 2 or 3 inches directly across from belly button it feels hard and bit sore when pressure is applied. On a separate issue: A week ago I had an allergic reaction. I think to suncream as lower legs were burning up that evening. Entire night I felt like I had sunstroke. No temperature as I checked several times. Thing is I had no sunburn. We did have warm weather, first in 9 months, so I did spend time outside. Had constipation on and off past 7 years but constipation issues have continued this past few months.

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FAQs About Stomach Bloating

Here are some frequently asked questions about stomach bloating.

Why do I have a bloated stomach after eating?

You may have abdominal bloating after eating if you have consumed a particularly gas-inducing foods. These include meats and cheeses and anything more difficult to digest that will leave a significant amount for bacteria in the gut to digest. Beans may also produce bloating as they contain compounds that are much easier for bacteria in the gut to digest and produce H2 gas from.

What foods are good to reduce stomach bloating?

Insoluble fibers like rice, carrots, certain types of beans and legumes, tomatoes, and live cultures like yogurt and kefir can reduce gas by slowing down digestion, helping establish a more preferential balance of bacteria in the gut and diluting out gas-causing compounds.

Why does my stomach bloat before my period?

Bloating of the stomach or abdomen is often attributed to both the swelling of the uterus before menstruation as well as the retention of fluids during the premenstrual phase due to changes in the relative amounts of progesterone and estrogen. Usually the excess water that builds up dissipates during the term of the menses.

Why does my stomach bloat without eating?

Bloating can occur without eating for individuals that drink substances that increase bloating like alcohol, carbonated beverages, or sugary beverages. It can also be significantly increased in individuals with slow small gut motility (the speed at which substances travel through the small intestine).

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Stomach Bloating

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Have you experienced any nausea?
  • Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Have you had any changes in your weight?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Stomach Bloating Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your stomach bloating

Stomach Bloating Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced stomach bloating have also experienced:

  • 11% Abdominal Pain (Stomach Ache)
  • 6% Nausea
  • 5% Bloody Vaginal Discharge

People who have experienced stomach bloating were most often matched with:

  • 33% Indigestion (Dyspepsia)
  • 33% Premenstrual Syndrome
  • 33% Normal Variation Of Constipation

People who have experienced stomach bloating had symptoms persist for:

  • 32% Less than a week
  • 25% Less than a day
  • 21% Over a month

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).

Stomach Bloating Symptom Checker

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