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Abdominal Distension

Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Abdominal distension refers to the swelling or enlargement of the abdomen, often caused by the accumulation of gas, fluid, or solid masses. It can be uncomfortable or painful and may indicate an underlying medical condition. 


Several factors can lead to abdominal distension, including: 

Gas: Trapped gas due to swallowing air, consuming carbonated beverages, eating gas producing foods, food intolerances, excessive gas production from bacteria overgrowth 

Constipation: Infrequent or difficult bowel movements can cause bloating and discomfort. 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): A common disorder affecting the large intestine, causing symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating gas and fluctuating stools. 

Gastrointestinal obstruction: A blockage in the digestive tract, preventing the normal passage of food and waste materials. 

Ascites: Accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity due to liver disease, heart failure, or cancer. 

Ovarian cysts: Fluid-filled sacs that develop on the ovaries, causing abdominal swelling and pain. 



Common symptoms of abdominal distension include: 

  • Visible enlargement of the abdomen 
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort 
  • Gas, belching, or flatulence 
  • Feeling full or bloated 
  • Nausea or vomiting 


Treatment Options 

Treatment depends on the underlying cause and may include: 

Lifestyle changes: Dietary modifications, regular physical activity, and stress management can help manage gas and constipation. 

Medications: Agents for gas relief, constipation, IBS can be prescribed for symptom relief. 

Surgery: In certain cases, such as gastrointestinal obstruction or large ovarian cysts, surgical intervention may be necessary. 

It is essential to consult your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. 

Information provided by: Dr. John Chi To Wong

Dr John Chi To Wong headshot

Dr John Chi To Wong

Specialist in Gastroenterology & Hepatology, OT&P Healthcare

Please note that all medical articles featured on our website have been reviewed by qualified healthcare doctors. The articles are for general information only and are not medical opinions nor should the contents be used to replace the need for a personal consultation with a qualified medical professional on the reader's medical condition.

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