Gastrointestinal disorders

Abdominal swelling



1. Symptoms

2. Causes

3. Prevention

4. Care and treatment

Abdominal swelling, or the unpleasant feeling of excessive abdominal tension, is a very common disorder, mainly caused by an accumulation of gases in the stomach and intestine.


It is generally accompanied by changes in the frequency of defecation (constipation or diarrhoea), abdominal cramps, flatulence and burping.


A swollen stomach is often a passing annoyance that can occur after a very large meal or a meal eaten too quickly. At other times it is associated with physiological phenomena, such as the menstrual cycle or the menopause.

However, in some cases abdominal swelling can be an an alarm bell for more significant conditions such as food intolerances (e.g. to lactose), coeliac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, appendicitis, viral/bacterial gastroenteritis, etc.


To fight abdominal swelling it can be useful to change diet or lifestyle, such as:

– Eat slowly and in moderation

– Avoid gorging yourself

– Avoid fizzy drinks

– Avoid chewing gum or too many sweets

– Do not eat fruits during meals, since fruits cause fermentation of the other foods ingested

– Eatprotein andvegetables(not fried) together

– Limit your consumption of foods that can cause flatulence, such as pulses (chickpeas, lentils, peas,beans,green beans)

– Drink fennel, mint and lemon balm-based teas

– Exercise or walk

Treatment and supplements

Intestinal gas comes partly from bacterial fermentation, and abdominal swelling can be a symptom of dysbiosis.

This is the reason why probiotics and prebiotics (water-soluble fibres such as inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides) can be useful for helping to balance the intestinal microbiota.

If abdominal swelling persists or is accompanied by potentially serious symptoms such as high fever, severe diarrhoea, loss of appetite or increase in abdominal pain on palpation, a doctor should be consulted.