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What are the Most Common Causes of Upper Abdominal Bloating?

Alex Tree
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Upper abdominal bloating is typically caused by the accumulation of intestinal liquids and gas. It is characterized by a feeling of painful or uncomfortable tightness in the upper abdomen. Bloating can be a symptom of underlying digestive disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome, dumping syndrome, and gastroparesis. Other possible causes are menstruation, food poisoning, and food allergies.

Indigestion causes large amounts of gas to accumulate in the intestines, which in turn causes bloating. Similarly, factors which trigger or contribute to intestinal gas production are also often causes of upper abdominal bloating. These factors can include food allergies, lactose intolerance, and constipation. Irritable bowel syndrome, gastric dumping syndrome, and conditions related to improper digestion also cause intestinal bloating.

Bloating can also be caused by water retention. This can occur when a person consumes excessive salt. People with a high salt intake are at a greater risk of bloating because salt attracts water. This may be relieved by using diuretics, water tablets, and minimizing salt in the diet.

Some women experience bloating in the upper abdomen during menstruation. Chemicals are released during menstruation which can cause the intestinal wall to contract, resulting in bloating. The presence of visceral fat may also cause cramps during menstrual periods. These muscular cramps may obstruct the intestines, and can cause the accumulation of gas, leading to bloating.

Aerophagia, or air swallowing, also cause upper abdominal bloating. This happens when the air enters the digestive tract. Since it cannot be let out through the esophagus, it gets trapped in the intestines. Aerophagia is a major cause of chronic bloating. People who regularly consume alcohol, smoke, or have poorly fitting dentures are more likely to experience aerophagia.

Other causes of upper abdominal bloating include functional dyspepsia and food poisoning. Food poisoning results can result in bloating as well as other symptoms such as nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. This usually happens when a person consumes food contaminated with bacteria. The germs are attacked by the body's immune system in the digestive system, and this process will often leave gaseous waste that causes bloating.

Upper abdominal bloating can often be treated with simple remedies. There are many over-the-counter medications that can help relieve bloating. Oils of rosemary, cypress, and lavender are usually effective, and can be used in the forms of mouthwashes, inhalants, and vaporizers; alternately, they can also be used as compresses and for massaging. Another remedy for bloating is dong quai, an oil with a diuretic effect. A tincture of dandelion may also help prevent fluid retention, and therefore be beneficial when fighting bloating.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Alex Tree
By Alex Tree
Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and The Health Board contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.
Discussion Comments
By donasmrs — On Aug 12, 2013

@turquoise-- Yes, it is. But if this is the only symptom you have, it's more likely to be just abdominal gas.

I had bloating during my first trimester but I also had back aches, nausea, fatigue and tender breasts. So if you have these symptoms as well, the bloating might be a sign of pregnancy.

If you don't have other symptoms, it's probably just gas and indigestion.

By turquoise — On Aug 11, 2013

Is upper abdominal bloating an early sign of pregnancy?

By ddljohn — On Aug 10, 2013

People who suffer from sleep apnea and people who sleep with their mouth open tend to get abdominal bloating too.

I had this problem for a while. I would breathe through my mouth the entire night and then wake up with a bloated abdomen. It was a very uncomfortable feeling and it also caused upset stomach, nausea and belching.

I went to a sleep study and that's how I found out about my sleep habits. I have learned to sleep with my mouth closed and my constant bloating has disappeared.

Alex Tree
Alex Tree
Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and The Health Board contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.
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