Swollen and hard stomach like a pregnant woman: causes and treatments

Swollen and hard stomach like a pregnant woman: causes and treatments

Sometimes the stomach feels swollen and hard as if you were pregnant. What are the causes ? When to worry? Answers and advice from Professor Maximilien Barret, gastroenterologist at Cochin hospital.

Bloating results in the feeling of having a swollen, tense and painful stomach. In medical jargon, we speak of “abdominal meteorism”. This phenomenon results from a accumulation of gas in the intestines (also called aerophagia or flatulence). It is often associated with digestive discomfort. This disorder can be transient (especially after a heavy meal or an excess of carbonated drinks, cruciferous vegetables, legumes), or chronicin which case a functional intestinal disorder may be involved. “Bloating represents a very frequent reason for consultation in gastroenterology. This is probably the least worrying of alland also the one for which the treatment solutions are the least effective”immediately asks Professor Maximilien Barret.

Why is my belly big like I’m pregnant?

Bloating is a symptom, not a disease. They result from the excessive presence of air in the digestive tract. This air may have been swallowed through the mouth during meals or may be produced by intestinal flora in the small or large intestine during the normal digestion process. Indeed, digestion results in gas productionwhich causes the digestive tract and subsequently the stomach to swell.

“Bloating may be experienced by some people who have greater than average sensitivity of the digestive tract, as well as a looser abdominal wall. The more relaxed the abdominal strap is, the more likely the stomach is to distend as the digestive tract fills with air”analyzes the specialist.

Generally, women are more prone to bloating than men. The cause is female hormones which act on intestinal motility.

Cancer, constipation, endometriosis, menopause, stress…What is the disease that causes the belly to swell?

Most of the time, this inconvenience is linked to:

  • A meal that is too large and/or an unsuitable diet for the digestive system;
  • An episode of constipation (accumulation of stools);
  • A viral or bacterial infection can cause stomach swelling;
  • A functional intestinal disorder (TFI), formerly called irritable bowel syndrome or functional colopathy. Subjects who suffer from it have a sensitivity disorder of the digestive tract which results in digestive discomfort during the normal functioning of digestion. The stomach is big and uncomfortable. The functional intestinal disorder may possibly be associated with transit disorders (diarrhea, constipation, or alternation of the two);
  • Hormonal fluctuations linked to the menstrual cycle and the drop in estrogen at the time of menopause are also likely to cause bloating.

More rarely, abdominal bloating may indicate illness like celiac disease or gluten intolerance or a digestive tract obstruction : it is then always associated with other symptoms, such as vomiting, a cessation or on the contrary an acceleration of intestinal transit, or weight loss. Apart from acute intestinal obstruction, which is a surgical emergency and is associated with complete cessation of transit and vomiting, we can cite extremely rare diseases such as gastroparesis, chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (POIC) of the intestine, or Ogilvie syndrome.

“When a patient’s stomach gradually swells, apart from bloating or simple weight gain, it is due to the accumulation of a fluid called ascites in the peritoneum, the sac that contains the organs. digestive. This phenomenon occurs in the context of diseases that can be serious, such as liver diseases associated with cirrhosis, malnutrition, renal failure, and certain cancers, particularly digestive or gynecological.informs the gastroenterologist.

Stomach bloated and painful to the touch: when to worry?

Bloating is never serious. “An emergency medical consultation is necessary in the event of significant weight loss, of presence of blood in the stools, of associated vomiting, or of discovery of a biological anomaly, in particular the occurrence of anemiawarns Professor Maximilien Barret.

Nocturnal symptoms should also be a warning: it is unusual for a person with a functional intestinal disorder to wake up at night with pain. Normally, he sleeps well at night and during the day, in the event of stress or a meal that is too rich, he may be bothered.

How to deflate your stomach?

Drug treatment

Faced with recurrent bloating, the attending physician may prescribe charcoal or simeticone medicines supposed to absorb gases from the digestive tract (Meteoxane, Meteospasmyl, Carbosylane, Carbosymag) and thus limit the associated discomfort. However, this treatment is not not very effective in finding a flat stomach. “It is a symptom that it is better to learn to live with rather than trying to cure it with treatments that do not work very well and are rarely continued in the long term,” advises our interlocutor.

Hygiene and dietetic measures

This essentially involves limiting intake of fiber, legumes (lentils, chickpeas, etc.) as well as cruciferous vegetables which typically cause bloating and flatulence. Consumption of chewing gum should also be limited. In addition to avoiding poorly tolerated foods, rebalancing of the intestinal microbiota thanks to a supply of probiotics (lactic ferments) can be offered.

Natural remedies

In case of constipation, we tend to recommend accelerating transit with foods rich in fiber, such as legumes or whole grains. “The problem is that the fibers themselves will feed the bacteria in the intestine and thus increase fermentation and the emission of gas, causing this famous swelling of the belly. Therefore, if bloating is associated with constipation (which is defined by fewer than three bowel movements per week), treatment consists first of regulate transit with laxativescontinues Professor Maximilien Barret.

Certain natural remedies (black radish, green anise, belly massages) can also be useful for going to the toilet more often during the week.

10 natural remedies for bloating

Slide: 10 natural remedies for bloating