Abdominal swelling: when to worry?

Abdominal swelling: when to worry?
Abdominal swelling: when to worry?

Abdominal swelling is a frequent symptom. For some, it is a matter of aesthetics and for others, it is an alteration in the quality of life. Let’s see in this article what the causes are and when it should be a concern.

What is abdominal swelling?

Abdominal swelling, bloating or belly swelling are terms that are used interchangeably. However, it cannot be said that they mean the same.

The medicine distinguishes between swelling and bloating. The first is the feeling that the person has, is the subjective feeling. On the other hand, abdominal distension is the objective perception of the increase in the size of the abdomen. Which can be seen in a physical examination.

We have to clarify that it is not obesity what we mean, nor accumulation of adipose tissue in the belly. Abdominal bloating affects overweight and thin people alike.

Abdominal swelling is very frequent. According to the studies that have been carried out, it is estimated that up to one-third of the population has had or has the symptom. The most affected are women, to a greater extent than men.

People do not die specifically for this symptom, but the quality of life is notoriously affected. More than half of those who suffer from it alter their routine because of the abdominal problem.

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Now, when to worry? There are as many interpretations of the severity of abdominal swelling as there are people who suffer from it. For some, it is a temporary passenger and for others, it is a daily complication. In the next space, we will address it in detail.

Causes of abdominal swelling

Possibly, the most frequent cause of abdominal swelling is abundant and excessive food. It is a benign and transient cause, without major complications. But there are also other causes of different severity:

  • Flatulence: due to the accumulation of intestinal gases with difficulty in expelling them.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome: those who suffer from this pathology suffer a slowing of intestinal transit.
  • Fluid in the abdominal cavity: this is a cause that is serious and should be investigated immediately.
  • Pregnancy: During pregnancy, it can slow down the intestinal transit as well as increase gas production.
  • Premenstrual syndrome: this calls a set of signs and symptoms that some women suffer before menstruation. Among the symptoms is abdominal swelling. It is not a serious clinical picture, but it is very annoying.
  • Lactose intolerance: when the intestine is unable to digest lactose, the result is increased fermentation in the digestive tract.

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When to worry

Abdominal swelling almost always reveals a benign process. It lasts a few hours and is solved without the person having to do anything in particular. But some cases hide a more serious process.

One of the measures to worry is the persistence of the swelling. In benign cases. It should not exceed twenty-four hours. In life-threatening cases, persistence is increasing in intensity. And in chronic conditions, such as dyspepsia, the twelve weeks limit is taken as a limit.

These twelve weeks also apply to conditions such as celiac disease or malabsorption syndromes. Of course, these pictures are accompanied by diarrhea and major digestive changes.

Gastroenteritis also has accompanying symptoms that run parallel to bloating. There may be diarrhea, vomiting and even fever.

It is of concern if intense pain is associated. There it is necessary to rule out cirrhosis, neoplasms, and clots. The background and the presence of risk factors can guide the professional in the search for a diagnosis.

How to reduce abdominal swelling

We know that the main cause of abdominal swelling is excessive, copious or poorly fed. We recommend taking certain measures to reduce it. Among these measures we have:

Increase fiber in the diet: fruits and vegetables improve intestinal transit through its fiber component. In cases where constipation is the cause of abdominal swelling, this consumption should be increased. Here is the 21 high fiber foods list that you must eat.

Perform physical activity: sports practice improves peristalsis and helps with the elimination of gases.

Hydration: sufficient water consumption required by the body daily maintains the hydration of the intestinal mucous membranes. It must be water without gas.

Avoid chewing gum: the excessive chewing movement necessary for a chewing gum can incorporate gases into the digestive tract.

Eating without haste: copious foods that ingested quickly also alter the movement of the digestive tract. We recommend eating slowly, chewing each bite well.

It is important to consult with a professional if doubts arise about the characteristics of abdominal swelling. We should not take it for granted that it is something usual or normal.

If you have doubts because it seems that the symptom lasts longer than expected or is accompanied by other signs, arrange an appointment with a professional. Meanwhile, you can apply the dietary measures that we suggest to help decrease the sensation.