Stomach bloating typically describes what happens when too much gas fills up the gastrointestinal tract. This can play havoc to the digestive symptom. A commonly reported complaint is a stretchy, puffy sensation in the tummy and painful abdominal cramps. One overlooked trigger of bloating is acid reflux.
Acid reflux happens when contents from a person’s stomach moves up into their throat. If it keeps happening, it’s called gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).
In addition to bloating, other symptoms of acid reflux may include:
- Heartburn – a burning sensation in the middle of a person’s chest
- An unpleasant sour taste in the mouth, caused by stomach acid
- A cough or hiccups that keep coming back
- A hoarse voice
- Bad breath
As the NHS explained, a person’s symptoms will probably be worse after eating, when lying down and when bending over.
What causes acid reflux?
As US TV doctor Dr Oz explained: “Each time you swallow, a sphincter in the lower part of your oesophagus relaxes to allow food or liquid to pass through to the stomach.”
He continued: “If this sphincter relaxes too much or too often or if it has become weak, it can allow stomach contents to back up into the oesophagus.
“The sensation of heartburn is due to the irritation that the acid generates in the lining of the oesophagus.”
How to treat acid reflux
One simple tip is to elevate the bed, said Dr Oz. Acid reflux can worsen at night when you’re lying down for long periods of time. “Try elevating the head of your bed six to eight inches by placing something sturdy (like bricks) underneath it,” said Dr Oz.
Taking 3mg of melatonin two hours before bedtime for up to four weeks, may also help to alleviate symptoms. As Dr Oz explained: “Melatonin, a hormone that helps to control our body clock, has been shown in studies to help protect the lining of the stomach and to increase the pressure of the lower oesophageal sphincter, which helps lock acid out of the oesophagus.”
The NHS also recommended the following tips:
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals
- Try to lose weight if they’re overweight
- Try to find ways to relax
The NHS also advised:
- Not having food or drink that triggers symptoms
- Not eating within three or four hours before bed
- Not wearing clothes that are tight around the waist
- Not smoking
- Not drinking too much alcohol
- Do not stop taking any prescribed medicine without speaking to a doctor first
- Constipation is another underlying trigger of bloating.
As Harvard Health explained: “Constipation is defined by fewer than three bowel movements per week, hard or dry stools, the need to strain to move the bowels, and a sense of an incomplete evacuation.
“If you’re not emptying your gut, there’s no room in your abdomen, and you’ll have excess bloating,” said Dr. Staller, a gastroenterologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
Other underlying triggers may include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Celiac disease