Bloating: One underlying condition that could be behind a bloated tummy

Bloating isn’t the nicest experience – it may make your belly feel stretched, and it can ruin a good outfit with its bulging tum. But, sometimes, the bloat could be indicative of a health condition.

Harvard Medical School cites gastroparesis as an underlying health condition, whereby bloating is one symptom.

What’s gastroparesis?

The NHS explained that gastroparesis is a long-term condition where food passes through the stomach much slower than usual.

Current thought suggests that the disorder occurs due to issues with the nerves and muscles that control how the stomach empties.

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Damage to the stomach nerves may cause stomach muscles not to work as effectively, thereby slowing down the movement of food.

As well as bloating, the national health service pin-points other symptoms of gastroparesis.

For instance, people with the condition may feel full very quickly when eating.

Other symptoms include feeling nauseous and vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss and abdominal pain or discomfort.

Some people with the condition may also suffer from heartburn. All these symptoms can come and go, and can vary on their severity.

Although the condition can’t be cured, dietary changes and medical treatment can help to manage the disorder.

Dietary adjustments

Dietary adjustments include moving away from the typical three meals per day to smaller and more frequent meals throughout the day.

Less quantity of food in the stomach enables easier movement and digestion.

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Additionally, one may consider eating more soft foods to aid digestion, and to eat liquid meals, such as fruit and vegetable smoothies.

The NHS recommend people suffering from gastroparesis to avoid fizzy drinks with each meal, instead opting for options such as water or pineapple juice.

It may also help to eat more slowly, really taking your time to chew your food before swallowing.

Medication

Certain medications may be recommended to help ease the symptoms of gastroparesis.

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For example, domperidone is offered to help contract stomach muscles and help move food along. This is to be taken before eating any meal.

Another option is erythromycin, an antibiotic that also helps contract the stomach muscles and move food along.

Anti-emetics may be prescribed to help prevent feelings of nausea and to stop someone from being sick.

All medications can cause side effects, which will need to be discussed with your GP.

It’s important to speak with your doctor if you’re suffering from symptoms of gastroparesis.

This is because the condition can lead to potentially serious complications if not seen to.

One such example is gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), where stomach acid leaks out of the stomach and into the food pipe (oesophagus).

Another complication of gastroparesis is unpredictable blood sugar levels – a particular risk for those who have type 2 diabetes.

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