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What are the Most Common Causes of Chronic Bloating?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The most common causes of chronic bloating are constipation and excess gas. Less common causes are bowel obstruction, tumor, cysts, or parasitic infection. Most of these are fully treatable and do not necessarily require the care of a physician.

Constipation is one of the most common causes of chronic bloating, especially when related to a common disorder like irritable bowel syndrome. There are many potential causes of constipation, such as eating too little dietary fiber and not drinking enough water. Adding these two things to the diet generally alleviates symptoms, and bowel movements often become more regular and easy to pass. If this is not the case, chronic constipation may be caused by an underlying bowel disorder which could require treatment by a physician.

Excessive gas is another one of the common causes of chronic bloating. This can be caused by two things. Either too much air is swallowed during the day and moves downward into the stomach or intestines, or naturally occurring intestinal bacteria create excessive gases during the process of breaking down food matter in the small intestine or color. Eating fewer gas producing foods, chewing and swallowing more slowly, and avoiding carbonated beverages lead to less gas and bloating in most cases.

Although less common causes of chronic bloating, tumors, cysts, and polyps are still prevalent enough to consider reasonable possibilities for ongoing symptoms. They do not necessarily have to take place in the stomach or colon, although they often do. For instance, ovarian cancer may cause the abdomen to feel distended or bloated if a large tumor is present. Treatments will depend on the size of the growths, whether they are benign or malignant, and whether or not they appear to be growing larger over time.

Occasionally, certain parasitic infections can also be causes of chronic bloating. Some parasites, such as tapeworms, can grow quite large if not discovered and removed promptly. Others quickly multiply and may lead to a accumulation of lots of parasites clumped together. Both cases may result in bloating and must be treated using anti-parasitic drugs.

Although usually not serious, any cases of chronic bloating should be reported to a healthcare provider if symptoms do not subside with dietary changes. Bowel disorders are relatively common, but may need to be treated with prescription medications if symptoms are severe. Causes such as tumors or cysts will need to be closely monitored and possibly removed.

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Discussion Comments

By stoneMason — On Jul 16, 2013

Medications can cause chronic bloating too. I have to take metformin, an anti-diabetic drug, and the major side effect of metformin is bloating. I wish I could stop taking it but, that's not an option. It's the best treatment right now for type 2 diabetes.

I'm lucky because in some people, it causes bloating and diarrhea. At least I don't have diarrhea. I have to take bloating remedies every day. I usually take antacids and mint herbal tea helps as well.

By fify — On Jul 16, 2013

@burcidi-- Do you have a sensitivity to certain foods like milk or wheat?

It definitely sounds like your chronic stomach bloating is due to a certain food, but you have to figure out which food is causing it. Try and keep track of when you experience bloating and what foods you ate in the meal before.

I, for example, have a sensitivity to wheat and yeast. I experience bloating when I eat bread. At one point, I was eating bread at every meal and was naturally always bloated and uncomfortable. I also had fatigue and my bowel movements had slowed down.

You might be experiencing something similar.

By burcidi — On Jul 15, 2013

I've had constant bloating for the past several weeks. I haven't been doing anything different, so I don't understand what the problem is. I'm so bloated that it's hard to breathe sometimes. The bloating is worse after eating. I only feel okay in the morning before breakfast. Does anyone else have this problem?

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