What causes a bloated stomach?

First I believe the distinction between bloating and distention must be established. Bloating is the feeling you get when your abdominal region is larger while distention is the actual "physical" finding that your abdominal area is larger than normal.

Distention is a more serious condition than bloating, and it can be caused by three different things:
  • Air
  • Fluid
  • Tissue

Gas is the most common cause of bloating and distention. Some causes of these gasses include;
  • Lactose and food intolerance
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Food allergies
  • Gas-producing foods
  • Beans
  • Vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, onions, artichokes and asparagus
  • Fruits such as pears, apples, peaches
  • Whole grains - whole wheat, bran
  • Soft and fruit drinks
  • Milk or milk products
  • Artificial sweeteners - Sorbitol & fructose

The production of gases is not the only cause of bloating, distention, gas and flatulence. Other common causes of pain and discomfort could be:
  • Overeating
  • Alvarez' syndrome (neurotic bloating with out the presence of gas)
  • Partial bowel obstruction
  • Constipation
  • Menstruation and premenstrual stress syndrome
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome and ovarian cysts
  • Intestinal Parasties
  • Diverticulosis or diverticulitis
  • Peri-menopause & menopause